Supply businesses are continuing to be hit with difficulties in importing materials from the EU, and exporting to Northern Ireland, since the UK left the EU, according to agri-supply industry trade association Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC).
AIC Member businesses who supply inputs including feed, fertiliser and crop protection products onto farm were polled on issues they have faced since the UK left the EU. Almost all AIC Members involved in import/export trade have experienced at least some degree of friction for a variety of reasons, impacting supplies. This impact has been felt the mostly strongly in the feed sector.
“The survey revealed that there is no single reason behind the difficulties faced by supply businesses,” said Ed Barker, Head of Policy and External Affairs at AIC. “It is a combination of the EU-UK Trade Agreement itself, the interpretation by EU member states, and the unwillingness of hauliers/couriers to transport goods. These issues are in addition to the impact of Covid-19 and global availability of products.
“There is a great deal of uncertainty around the new checks that are expected to come into effect on 1st October on imports to GB, and a lack of understanding from EU exporters could compound this further.”
Survey respondents reported the following:
- 25% of AIC Member businesses had noticed issues on importing goods from EU to GB since 1st January.
- The main problems cited were physical readiness at ports/points of entry and costs such as tariffs/agent fees/customs (over half of respondents named both).
- 61% of AIC Members said they were not confident of what would be expected of them when full inspection checks phase in from October 2021.
- Two thirds of Members have had challenges or difficulties exporting to NI from GB since 1st January.
- The main challenges for businesses included finding hauliers or couriers, customs or tariff procedures, or incorrect documentation such as Export Health Certificates being asked for.
- Over half of Members have used governmental schemes to aid NI export, though many feel that they are ultimately let down by insufficient or inconsistent guidance.
AIC has raised concerns about these obstacles with senior civil servants and is working on technical matters to try to find a solution. In addition, support has been given to individual businesses where they have not received enough from UK or EU Member State authorities.
“Looking ahead, we expect the UK will bring in import checks from 1st October. We are working with Government to make guidance as clear as possible by arranging meetings with AIC Members and officials to explain the real-world hurdles they are facing. It’s also important to ensure there is flex in the system to allow for any inevitable mistakes that do occur once the changes are in place.
“We are continuing to inform the UK position on agri-suply imports/exports and our joint work at an EU level and our coordination with other organisations is helping to ensure supply delays of feed and other input supplies to farm are minimised.”