More than €500m was wiped from the value of agri-food exports from the EU to the UK last year, as weak sterling made selling goods to Britain more expensive.
This is according to the European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV), an organisation representing 53 national and regional meat association bodies in the EU, but also Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Switzerland and Norway.
The €500m figure was quoted at the UECBV’s annual general meeting in Bucharest, Romania’s capital city, last week.
Food trading losing money
UECBV president Philippe Borremans called on Brexit’s main voices – David Davis, UK Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier – to sort out transitionary arrangements as soon as possible.
He warned European heads of state that businesses had already lost money because of the weak pound against the euro, which is around 10% lower than it was pre-Brexit vote.
Borremans wants negotiators to “decide soon” on what the EU’s further trading relationship with Britain – its second-largest single export market – will be.
However, talks have not yet moved on to discussions around trading arrangements, with both parties still at loggerheads over Britain’s divorce bill, which some claim could be as high as €60bn.
UECBV is expected to publish a report detailing what impact Britain exiting the EU with no deal could have on the sector. This will demand constructive decision-making as soon as possible if the EU wants to avoid a “crisis” similar to the politically-charged Russian food embargo, Borremans warned.