The effects of Brexit in the Region have already been felt in the agricultural sector. The first data that have been published by the Ministry after this ‘divorce’ with Great Britain show that the export of Murcian fruits and vegetables to the island has fallen by 19.2% from January to February of this year. Up to this point, the British had not stopped demanding our products. It breaks with an upward trend that, despite the pandemic, caused agricultural exports to increase by 6.77% in 2020.
Agriculture continues to be one of the most important sectors for the Region in terms of foreign trade. After the division of the United Kingdom from Europe, the Murcian agricultural sector has greater difficulties for its products to reach Anglo-Saxon supermarkets.
Even so, the Association of Producers-Exporters of Fruits and Vegetables of the Murcia Region considers the agreement reached by the European Union for this type of products to be positive. If it had not been carried out, this body estimates that the customs duties would have amounted to an additional 61 million euros per year.
This free trade agreement guarantees that no goods from the European Union that intend to enter the British market have to pay tariffs. In the same way, no British product will pay to enter any EU country.
The difficulties that Murcian agri-food products now face are of an administrative nature, since since January 1, 2021 they are considered as a product from a third country, and they have to comply with all current regulations in Great Britain , some procedures that were not necessary before.
According to the first data just published by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Murcia’s exports of fruit and vegetable products to this country have fallen by 19.2% in January and February compared to the same period last year.
A quite significant drop if we take into account that, in 2020, despite the pandemic, the Murcian agri-food sector increased its exports to the United Kingdom by 6.77% compared to the previous period. Horticultural products represented more than 62% of what the English demanded last year.
This drop could also be due to the closure of non-essential businesses decreed throughout the United Kingdom at the beginning of January this year. Last Monday the restrictions were lifted for these establishments, which had been in force for more than three months continuously.
From that moment on, the country’s bars and restaurants have resumed their activity, although, for now, they will only be able to offer their services on terraces. The resumption of restoration could increase the demand for Murcian agricultural products in the country.
No health certificates
The collapse of these first two months could have been accentuated as of April 1, 2021, the date by which it was planned that European agri-food products that crossed the British borders would be required to present a phytosanitary certificate. Fortunately, on March 11, the British Government announced that it would delay the measure until January 1, 2022.
The drop in exports has also occurred in reverse. The fruit and vegetable products that the Region of Murcia buys from the Anglo-Saxon country are usually much lower than the amount they demand. For the first time in a long time, the Region did not import any British product belonging to these sectors in January 2021.
We will have to wait a few months to analyze whether this situation is on the way to consolidating over time. Future trade relations with Great Britain are mainly in the hands of the European Union, since it is in charge of jointly negotiating matters related to the foreign trade of the 27 countries that now comprise it.
The trade balance, despite everything, is positive for the Region
Exports from the Region of Murcia increased (in the total sum, despite the fall in the fruit and vegetable sector) by 2.2 percent in the first two months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 (-6.6 per percent in Spain), which makes it the only autonomous community that produced a positive figure, according to data released by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and collected by Europa Press.
Specifically, exports in the Region reached 1,730.7 million euros, while imports fell by 18.2 percent (-11.1 percent in the rest of the country), to 1,450.2 million euros. .
In this way, the trade balance of the Region of Murcia showed a surplus of 280.5 million euros, 455.7 percent more than between January and February 2020. This is the second largest decrease, after Andalusia (459, 4 percent), in the evolution of the country’s exports.
In the analysis of the contributions to the interannual variation rate of total exports, the Region of Murcia contributed positively with 0.1 percentage points, which represents 3.9 percent of the total and a growth of 2.2 interannual, according to the report.
Foreign trade data for the months of January and February are explained by a 3.7 percent decrease in chemical products, which totaled 193.9 million, as well as the food, beverages and tobacco sector (-1.3 percent to 869.1 million), while sales abroad of energy product goods rose (10 percent to 408.2 million).
On the other hand, imports registered a decrease in energy products (-26.2 percent to 826.7 million euros) and food, beverages and tobacco (-13.4 percent to 235.1 million), while Chemicals increased 6.8 percent to 126.9 million.