The 'Brexit News: the fruit and vegetable sector' webinar, organized by LA VERDAD and the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia, brought together different experts, from producers to transporters, to discuss the impact of Brexit on Murcia's fruit and vegetable sector.
62% of all regional exports to the United Kingdom are of fruit and vegetable products. As such, the sector needs to have information on the procedures that will be carried out as of April 1, when the British will tighten control measures on imported products, implementing new requirements for phytosanitary certificates and new procedures.
The Minister of Water, Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and the Environment, Antonio Luengo, stated at the event that the Ministry would only conduct a customs inspection on a small percentage of shipments and that the United Kingdom would be in charge of selecting what controls it would carry out at destination, which would increase starting July. "We need mechanisms that allow us to export in an agile way and we mustn't fall back into customs procedures of the middle of the last century," he said. Luengo also praised the quality of the products of the primary sector and the mature, agile, and efficient transport system.
Operational and cost issues
Transporting these goods to the United Kingdom has brought new operational and cost issues. The cost is estimated to increase by 8% for the transport sector. "Our exports have fewer complications, but there are many complications and delays in customs in the imports from the United Kingdom to the European Union," said Manuel Perezcarro, Froet's secretary-general.
"These stops at customs are very damaging because we need those hours to arrive at the destination, return to the origin, load, and bring those supplies," stated Jose Maria Martinez, from Grupo Caliche.
Exporters are concerned that despite the efforts being made to adapt to the new situation, now that the UK is no longer an EU member it has open relationships with other competing countries. "The pressure from the markets is going to be very important and that translates into falling prices," stated Joaquin Gomez Carrasco, the president of Apoexpa.
"We are going to have a lot of competition. We must analyze the agreements with Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco, as they can hit us squarely because of their proximity," said Juan Bravo.
"We need to take into account the new players appearing in the market that will strongly affect us," stressed Miguel Lopez Abad, the president of the Chamber of Commerce.