EU buyers not committing to UK meat orders over fears of no-deal Brexit tariffs

Read the British Meat Processors Association's take on Brexit below.
calendar icon 8 August 2019
clock icon 4 minute read

Insurers that cover these consignments and facilitate the movement of goods between countries are refusing to indemnify against losses related to a no-deal Brexit. Couple that with a volatile exchange rate, mooted border delays and complete uncertainty surrounding whether Brexit will even happen on 31 October means the obvious solution for EU buyers is to source product from elsewhere.

This means that, come 31 October, British meat companies, who are now being forced to export day to day at "spot prices", could have the rug pulled from under them and see orders simply cease with no long-term supply contracts to soften the blow.

Will America save us?

Don’t count on it. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, along with various influential pro-Irish committees in Congress have made it abundantly clear that they will block any trade deal if Brexit harms the Good Friday Accord. In such a scenario, a UK/US trade deal would, in Mrs Pelosi’s words, have "no chance whatsoever".

No-deal planning

Reports from the CBI, the Institute for Government and evidence from George Hollingbery MP to the Commons International Trade Committee all point to a national lack of preparedness for Brexit.

While some contingency planning has been happening, there is a limit to what can be done and how much can be spent planning for no-deal. Cold stores up and down the country are already full in anticipation of Christmas (an added complication that wasn’t a factor back in March).

In reality, many of the problems that a no-deal exit will cause can neither be prepared for nor mitigated. This is the "instantaneous shock to the economy" on 1 November that Mark Carney described in a recent interview. Meat processors must risk committing to buying stock that they may not be able to sell and then take it on the chin if their export market collapses.

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