A "very bad option" for both British and Spanish people

Spain: Agricultural sector fears a no-deal Brexit

The Spanish agricultural sector fears a no-deal Brexit because of the catastrophic effects that it would entail, although many producers say they have already been suffering from the depreciation of the pound sterling against the Euro.

"As the weeks go by, there is growing restlessness, uncertainty and concern," says Juan Marín, president of the Association of Producers and Exporters of Fruits and Vegetables of the Region of Murcia (Proexport), who stresses that a hard Brexit would "mainly be a disaster for the United Kingdom, but also for Spain."

This opinion is shared by the president of the Region of Valencia, Ximo Puig, who says that, for the United Kingdom, a hard Brexit would be like "shooting yourself in the foot; a very bad solution for the British, but also for Spain."

The negative effects range from the purely logistical, given the reestablishment of customs controls, to the signing of new trade agreements, which would undermine the Spanish preeminence. Also worth noting is the strong depreciation that the pound has suffered over the last two years.

The uncertainty is huge less than two months before the date planned for the exit, on March 29, but for now, it seems impossible for the British Parliament to ratify the agreement reached by its government with the European Commission (EC) or to reopen the negotiation.

"What concerns us most is what will happen to the pound," Marín says.

Joaquín Gómez, president of the association of Murcian agricultural producers and exporters Apoexpa, assures that "the sector has already lost everything it had to lose as a result of Brexit," as far as the depreciation of the British currency is concerned.

Before the referendum, the pound stood above 1.30 Euro, and the current exchange rate is 1.14 Euro.

It is also worrying that the United Kingdom is looking for alternative suppliers, to the detriment of Spanish agriculture and the benefit of third countries, such as Morocco.

David Romera, a specialist in the United Kingdom of the International Commercial Department of the Agroponiente group, from Almeria, is not as pessimistic, as he argues that a British "plan B" would be too complex and that its business is based on the marketing of necessity goods.

"I do not think our product is going to suffer," says Romera, who concedes that at first there could be commercial tensions, but that food would be safe: "With our products, there is a red line."

Some fear, however, the return to the previous system, with tariffs ranging between 10 and 15% for horticultural products and a considerable increase in the amount of bureaucratic procedures necessary to export.

The Councilor of Agriculture of Murcia, Miguel Angel del Amor, says that the biggest threat in the short term is "the saturation of customs controls at the border," with the United Kingdom unable to manage the volume of imports. This, of course, would be greatly damaging for perishable products.

"Who will be paying out compensations?" asks Del Amor, who believes that "the State must protect the goods" and proposes a plan similar to the one executed after the "Russian veto."

In his opinion, a "clear contingency plan" on the part of the Spanish Government is necessary and points out that the companies are already taking measures.

Gómez regrets that Spain has not reinforced its customs staff ahead of Brexit, as has been done by other European partners, such as the Netherlands, Germany and France.

The sector is putting pressure on the administration at different levels, from regional to EU level, asking for support to agricultural producers ahead of Brexit, although it acknowledges that there are many other areas that require political attention in this matter.

The associations are trying to find formulas to overcome the possible obstacles, including the creation of a "fast track" at the border that prioritizes the entry of perishable products.

Source: EFE


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