The United Kingdom seems increasingly unlikely to reach a trade agreement with the European Union by the end of the year, and the food industry is warning of higher prices and shorter supplies.
The UK reaffirmed Brexit, its decision to leave the EU, with the 2019 election of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who ran on a platform of “make Brexit happen.” Since then, trade relations between the UK and EU have been governed by a trade agreement, mostly along the lines of the status quo, that is due to expire at the end of the year.
Johnson announced earlier this month that prospects for a new trade deal are dim and the country must prepare for a no-deal Brexit. This drew concern from British food industry observers.
Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, estimated that consumers will have to pay £3 billion (about $3.9 billion) in tariffs. “Government must do what is necessary to agree a zero-tariff agreement, or else it will be the public that pay the price,” she told The Grocer, a British trade journal.
In addition, food retailers and others fear that deliveries from overseas will pile up as truckloads have to pass more detailed customs inspections.