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Brexit and the fresh produce industry

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Lobbying and advice

Brexit - What happens next?

The UK leaves the European Union on Friday 31 January 2020 at 2300 hours. The UK then enters a transition period which will last until 31 December 2020.

Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement the UK remains under EU regulations for plant health, food safety and marketing standards, with customs and border arrangements staying the same during this transition period.

Any new EU regulations and provisions that come into force during the transition period will also apply to the UK. However, as the UK is no longer a member of the EU we will not have voting rights or attend EU meetings, unless invited as an observer.


HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has extended the deadline for businesses to apply for customs support funding to 31 January 2021.

The scheme, first announced in September 2019, had been due to close on 31 January 2020. To date, applications have been made for around £18.5 million out of a possible £26 million – meaning there is at least £7.5 million left to claim from HMRC.

As well as supporting recruitment and improved IT capability, the money applied for so far could potentially fund nearly 15,000 training courses to help traders submit customs declarations.  Businesses can find out how to apply for grants on GOV.UK.


Future UK Immigration Policy from 2021

The Migration Advisory Committee has published its salary threshold and points-based system review.  It is anticipated that a new Immigration White Paper will be published in March 2020. FPC will keep members advised of developments.

FPC continues to lobby the UK Government for urgent clarification on the UK’s immigration policy coming into effect in 2021.  It is vital that we have a policy which reflects the needs of our industry, for both permanent and temporary workers at all skills levels.


Future trade agreements

In March 2020 the UK and the EU will start negotiating a future relationship which the UK Government intends will be in place for 1 January 2021.

The UK continues to have access to the terms of EU Free Trade Agreements with third countries during the transition period. The UK Government can negotiate new trade agreements with third countries from 1 February 2020.  The UK Government is working on the principle of replicating existing EU agreements.

Any UK trade agreement will come into effect after the transition period. In addition, the UK Government is seeking to develop new trade agreements with the Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the US. 

FPC is engaged in some discussions with regard to future tariffs, Tariff Rate Quotas as well a potential future Entry Price System.  We may call on members for data to facilitate these discussions.

FPC has joined others in the UK food and drink industry to set out a vision for the UK’s future trading policy.  It distils common themes which we believe should form the core of government thinking on future trade policy affecting our sectors.


What may happen after 31 December 2020?

From 1 January 2021 there will be changes in how you trade with the EU and with third countries.

If there is no agreement in place between the UK and the EU by 31 December 2020 then there would need to be an extension to the transition period, agreed by both the UK and the EU, or we will be in a ‘No Deal’ situation, as we faced in 2019. We cannot rule out this potential outcome.

What you can do now

  • We will be updating members regularly with advice on what will be changing and how to prepare for changes in regulations and customs clearance
  • We will provide information as it becomes available on trade agreements
  • FPC is updating its Importing and Exporting Guides.

Check you have registered and have your UK EORI number to submit customs declarations to move goods between Great Britain and the EU after the transition period is over.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

Trade Agreements - update

The UK Government has published documents containing treaty information and summaries of the agreement of trade between the UK and a number of countries. 

Edible vegetables, fruit and nuts are highlighted in the following Parliamentary Reports as in the top 5 UK imports from these countries (members can click on title to access the report).

Where possible, Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) have been resized based on three years’ worth of customs data, which detail actual usage of the TRQs by importers. This customs data is held by HMRC which records the volume and date of entry of shipments of goods that enter the UK claiming TRQ preferences. Where three years’ worth of customs data is not available, trade flow data has been used instead.

The UK is retaining the flexibility to implement an Entry Price System following its withdrawal from the EU.  The UK agreements with individual countries are including this provision.

FPC members can find below in the publications a summary of key elements of the latest parliamentary reports covering UK agreements with  Jordan; Morocco; the South African Customs Union member states and Mozambique; and Tunisia.


Geographical Indicators

Within the published arrangements for preferential trade between the UK and Colombia, Ecuador and Peru after Brexit, the following applications are submitted for the protection of geographical indications relating to fresh produce:

Geographical Indication


Date of Application

Ecuador – Pitahya de Palora


11 December 2018

Peru – Loche de Lambayeque


31 October 2017

Peru – Aceituna de Tacna


31 October 2017

Ecuador and Peru intend to deliver their applications on the first date on which the UK officially ceases to be part of the EU, or when the GI scheme of the EU ceases to apply to the UK, whichever comes later.


The UK has signed continuity agreements with the following countries for when the UK leaves the EU:

  • Andean countries (Columbia; Ecuador; Peru)
  • CARIFORUM countries
  • Central America (Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Honduras; Nicaragua; Panama)
  • Chile
  • Eastern and Southern Africa (Madegascar;Mauritius; Seychelles, Zimbabwe)
  • Faroe Islands
  • Georgia
  • Iceland and Norway
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kosovo
  • Lebanon
  • Liechtenstein
  • Morocco
  • Pacific States (Papua New Guinea and Fiji)
  • Palestinian Authority
  • South Korea
  • Southern Africa Customs Union and Mozambique (SACU + M) trade bloc - South Africa has signed the UK-SACU+M trade agreement.
  • Switzerland
  • Tunisia.
  • The countries which will be covered by the UK-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement are:

    • Antigua and Barbuda*
    • Bahamas*
    • Barbados
    • Belize
    • Dominica
    • Dominican Republic
    • Grenada
    • Guyana
    • Jamaica
    • St Christopher and Nevis
    • St Lucia
    • St Vincent and the Grenadines
    • Suriname
    • Trinidad and Tobago


The UK has signed mutual recognition agreements with Australia; New Zealand; and the United States of America.

A continuity agreement simplifies trade and allows businesses to trade as freely as they do now, without any additional barriers or tariffs.

Discussions are taking place with the following countries where there are existing EU trade agreements in place:

  • Albania (Western Balkans)
  • Algeria
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina (Western Balkans)
  • Cameroon (Central Africa)
  • Canada
  • Cote d'Ivoire
  • Egypt
  • Ghana (Western Africa)
  • Kenya (EAC)
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro (Western Balkans)
  • North Macedonia (Western Balkans)
  • Serbia (Western Balkans)
  • Singapore
  • Ukraine.







Summary of key elements in UK trade agreements - Brexit update 08 01 20

Importers' Guide to a no deal Brexit - October 2019

Exporters' Guide to a no deal Brexit - October 2019

Brexit No Deal Frequently Asked Questions

You need to take steps to export plants and plant products to the EU

You need to take new steps to export fruit and vegetables to the EU

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