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FPC calls on UK Government to avoid a ‘perfect storm’ in 2021

FPC calls on UK Government to avoid a ‘perfect storm’ in 2021

28 Jul 2020

Unless the UK Government changes its proposed plans for future trading with the EU it will damage the UK fresh produce industry, create shortages and increase prices for UK consumers, says the Fresh Produce Consortium.

“We are not confident that government departments will adopt the most effective solutions to support the UK fresh produce industry,” said Nigel Jenney, Chief Executive of the FPC. “We believe that the Border Operating Model for trading between the EU and GB as it stands will be unworkable for many business unless the UK Government listens to us and makes changes now. We are not prepared to wait until the autumn for the outcomes of current discussions.”

“The UK Government is calling for businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period yet there are so many unanswered questions at present. How can an industry prepare when it lacks essential information and does not know if it will have sufficient labour? We are calling time now on the UK Government to avoid a ‘perfect storm’ for 2021.”

FPC has been asking the UK Government to provide essential information which is missing from the Border Operating Model and the Northern Ireland Protocol. For example, importers need to know which products are deemed to be ‘controlled’ or ‘high risk’ and therefore need pre-notification and checks; where consignments will be cleared and whether these facilities will be resourced properly to avoid delays and increased costs.

“It’s vital that traders have a simple and efficient process to follow to pre-notify consignments and clear customs, as well as covering plant health and food safety requirements. Government systems must be integrated so traders don’t have to make multiple entries across different systems,” said Nigel Jenney.

“Businesses which have only ever traded with the EU will be coming new to many requirements and will need government support. Not all may use an intermediary to do their customs declarations.”

“If we have further Covid-19 outbreaks we could face another difficult trading period over the winter months just as we prepare for the end of the transition period with the EU. We know the industry will be operating differently in January 2021, but we need the UK Government to work with us to help businesses prepare. We cannot do this with an unsatisfactory half-baked model.”