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No deal challenges across UK agriculture and horticulture

4 February 2019

With the Brexit clock ticking, our latest Horizon report presents new insight into the potential impacts on the UK’s trade in agricultural and horticultural goods.

Brexit prospects for UK agri-food trade examines in detail how both an orderly withdrawal and a no-deal scenario will affect trade across the UK’s main farming sectors.

For those with an interest in a specific sector, a series of ‘bite-size’ versions have also been produced for dairy, beef and lamb, pork, cereals and oilseeds, potatoes and horticulture.

Using the latest data, the full report looks at the current trade situation, potential tariff levels and the size of the domestic production base to reveal a complex picture for UK agriculture and horticulture after Brexit. It provides ready comparisons between sectors in terms of imports and exports, self-sufficiency and tariff levels.

UK exports of agricultural and horticultural products are likely to be rendered uncompetitive if World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs come into play on our exports to the EU. By plotting the value share of particular food products in imports and exports markets against its ad valorem tariff, the report visualises which goods would be most affected by the imposition of  WTO rules if the UK defaults to no-deal.

In addition, if the Government decides to drop all tariffs on imports from the EU this would have to apply to the rest of the world, meaning UK products could face increased competition on the domestic market. In many sectors, UK costs of production are high when compared with those of key international competitors. No deal could mean the loss of tariff barrier protection and more competition from global producers.

AHDB Senior Analyst and report co-author Amandeep Kaur Purewal said: “The prospect of a no-deal scenario cannot be ignored. This would have a seismic impact on UK trade in agricultural and horticultural products, with major implications for the farming sectors.

“It is crucial farmers and policy makers fully understand the potential consequences of leaving the EU, whether in an orderly or disorderly manner, if we are to avoid massive disruption throughout the industry.

“At AHDB we are working to raise awareness of those potential impacts, through reports like this, and our online Brexit hub. More specifically, we are exploring ways to help farmers and growers cope with less labour in the future, to ensure continued access to plant protection products and to bolster the domestic market, as well as further work to open new markets abroad for UK produce.”

For potatoes, there may be additional phytosanitary controls on fresh and seed potato trade between the UK and EU, which would likely make the certification process longer, increasing costs for businesses. Given that 99 per cent of the UK’s imports of frozen potato products come from the EU, there may be an opportunity for import substitution if import tariffs were in place but considerable investment would be needed to capitalise on this.

Find the Potatoes Bitesize Report here.

For all Brexit news, information and analysis, including the potential impacts of various scenarios on farm business incomes, go to

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