Agriculture prepares a contingency plan against Brexit | Economy

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, during a control session to the Government last day 6.EUROPA PRESS/J. Hellín. POOL / Europa Press

The Ministry of Agriculture has drawn up a contingency plan to try to minimize the impact of the effective exit of the United Kingdom from the EU on January 1 in the agricultural sectors and the food industry. The challenge is no less, since Spain sells food worth 4,000 million to the United Kingdom annually, of which 1,800 are fruits and vegetables. The red fruits stand out with about 300 million, wine and musts with 311 million, citrus for 290 million, olives for 230 million and olive oil for 163 million.

Agriculture handles all the scenarios, including that of a break that does not respect the Brexit pact, an impression shared by some affected sectors. In any case, the imposition of borders will lead to a sharp increase in procedures, permits and controls for the thousands of trucks that cross the islands daily by sea. Agriculture estimates that certifying activity in the phytosanitary field will increase by 54%, especially in fruits and vegetables. In the opposite direction, due to imports of animals, milk and derivatives or feed, the burden at the borders will increase by 56%, mainly for Animal Health services.

The ministry’s plan contemplates a reinforcement of the templates in the central Administration of 13 people and another 20 in the points where the largest shipments of products are made, such as the Canary Islands, Almería, Murcia, Valencia, Lérida, Bilbao Santander or Vigo.

Fear of more tariffs

If the execution of Brexit does not respect the Withdrawal Agreement, the Spanish sector would be faced with the worst scenario and the possibility of having to face a tariff that could reach 22% of the value of exports. This situation would mean leaving the door open to imports from what are now third countries, with the consequent negative effect on Spanish sales. An indirect effect would be the need to place these productions in other Community markets, with the risk of an oversupply that depresses prices.

The Plan includes promotion strategies in new markets and, with regard to regulation, storage measures. The affected sectors would also count on the EU’s 5,000 million fund to support the sectors that may be harmed. Without a deal, Brexit would add to the negative impact of last year’s US tariffs. The United Kingdom, in order to secure its supplies outside the EU, has already signed agreements with countries in North Africa.

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