Brexit has severely disrupted trade between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK), with total UK imports from the EU falling by almost a quarter (24.8%) and exports to the EU falling by 13.1%, according to a report for the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee.
European companies are already suffering export losses due to Britain’s departure from the EU, even though additional customs controls (mainly for agriculture) will only be introduced from this year.
Last year was still considered a transition year, with physical checks and new administrative requirements coming into force throughout 2022.
On 1 January, the British government tightened the certification requirements for most agricultural products, with new requirements to take effect between 1 July and 1 November 2022.
Agri-food companies exporting to the UK will need a UK importer or their own branch in the UK to arrange certification. An exception applies to trade with Northern Ireland.
A UK survey found that only one in four small importers is ready for the impending changes, while one in eight said they could not prepare for the introduction of controls.
It is already known that UK Customs have not even trained the staff they need and that the software programmes of their computer equipment are not compatible with European systems, according to reports from Nieuweoogst, a Dutch outlet covering agricultural news.