Trade after Brexit

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The UK’s imminent departure from the European Union has resulted in a rash of government consultations and White Papers which will affect our industry.

These include the proposed integration of the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) into law after we leave the EU on 1 January 2021, and the establishing of a UK Internal Market.

nabim is currently developing responses to both, as well as plans for the future of border management from 2025 and the first report on a national food strategy.

The Internal Market White Paper, which is over 100 pages long, seeks views on proposals to reflect in law two key principles: mutual recognition and the principle of non-discrimination.

The intention is to allow goods lawfully produced in one part of the UK – for example Scotland – to be marketed in all four nations, even though different rules might apply, and to ensure these rules do not create discrimination between goods and services traded between different parts of the UK. (Northern Ireland is acknowledged as an exception when it comes to agrifood matters).

“We are strongly voicing the message that businesses need to continue to be able to trade effectively across the UK, and that having consistency in rules among all devolved administrations in areas such as food labelling, composition and standards remains key as the flour sector, as well as many others, operates within a fully integrated UK market model and has businesses that operate in more than one jurisdiction.

“However, this is likely to be a tricky political issue as each of the legislatures manoeuvres to maximise its legislative power.”

Alex Waugh, Director General, nabim

While Brexit discussions are ongoing, however, there seems little prospect of an agreement being reached before October. 

“There have been some signs of movement in a couple of areas, but key issues about the level playing field (EU concern), sovereignty/EU court of justice (UK concern) and fish remain unresolved. 

“Neither side wants to be blamed for failure, but the prospects for anything more than an basic agreement to be applied from 1 January are receding.

“Nevertheless, nabim continues to seek clarity on how the discussion is developing and, importantly, what the prospects are for resolution of the uncertainties around the Northern !reland Protocol, which will apply from January 2021 regardless. 

“Elsewhere, the government is working hard to achieve an agreement with Japan in the next few weeks, but the already slim prospects of a deal with the USA prior to the Presidential elections in November seem to have cooled still further.”

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