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No-Deal Fear-Checker, No. 9

The UK imports 30% of its food from the EU, an amount that will be at its peak in March due to the low availability of domestic fresh produce at that time. Much of it comes through the Calais to Dover ferry route or the Eurotunnel. As it stands, if we leave the EU without a transition period – which would hold tariffs and regulatory inspections at zero – the UK will apply import duties to food imported from the EU, importers will have to complete customs declarations, and there will be new regulatory barriers when the UK and EU are in separate regulatory systems.

According to the IEA’s latest Fear-Checker, Legal and technical measures are available and being put into place in the UK and member states to keep
trade flowing. However, even with implementation by the UK and neighbouring member state authorities of the available facilitations, there is a serious risk that companies and the intermediaries that support international trade, like hauliers and customs brokers, will not be ready and will present with incorrect documentation, causing queues and delays. Many of the companies who have made the most recent claims already import from around the world and should have been well placed, after more than two years notice, to make necessary adjustments. Smaller businesses and intermediaries will need more support, and all affected traders need certainty from government as to what the legal parameters will be.

Intensive presence of Border Force, HMRC and customs brokers at or near Channel ports should keep traffic moving, prioritising flow over compliance in the immediate term to ensure that shelves are stocked.

Head of Regulatory Affairs

Victoria joined the IEA’s International Trade and Competition Unit in Spring 2018. She is a lawyer and practiced for 12 years in the fields of technology and financial services, before joining the Legatum Institute Special Trade Commission to focus on trade and regulatory policy. She has published work on the implications and opportunities of Brexit in financial services and movement of goods and the issues in connection with the Irish border. Before entering the legal profession Victoria worked for Procter & Gamble in the UK and Germany.

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