Jonathan English, Strategic Projects Executive, Bord Bia - The Irish Food Board
The EU27 have formally accepted a UK extension meaning the UK did not leave on the 31st of October. The new extension will now end on the 31st of January 2020. There will now be a General Election taking place on the 12th of December.
UK Government spending
According to the Financial Times, The government has spent £100m on a communications campaign focused on a deadline for October 31. Total UK spending on Brexit planning has now reached £6.3bn. The impact of no deal planning has resulted in members of the UK civil service spending more of their time on no deal contingency planning rather than on their everyday duties. They have been preparing for a no deal Brexit on three occasions; 29th of March 12th of April, 31st of October and now they are preparing for the 31st of January. The impact on businesses, however, is far greater as they have spent enormous amounts of money on preparing their businesses for a no deal Brexit. Now that the new extension is in place, businesses are still obliged to spend on mitigating the risk a no deal poses.
What the new extension means for the Food and Drink Industry
Evaluating the different scenarios under the new extension, the UK International Meat Trade Association (IMTA) believe that it will be possible for the UK to leave the EU prior to the end of the new extension if the UK passes the Withdrawal Agreement in that time. They understand that if the Withdrawal Agreement were passed, that when the UK entered the transition period (up until end of 2020 with possibility for an extension) the UK will still be treated as a Member State by the EU. Therefore, trade would continue as business is usual. In a transition period the UK would be able to start dialogue on future UK free trade agreements with other third countries like New Zealand and Australia. Any agreements reached during the transition period would not come in to effect until the UK had completely left the EU at the end of this period. The UK and EU could also pursue a free trade agreement in this time but IMTA the future relationship needs further confirmation.
DEFRA have also highlighted that during the extension period up to 31st of January, businesses should continue importing and exporting goods as they do now, using all the current processes and systems in place. There will be no additional checks taking place during this time either in the UK or the EU.
Despite the scenarios outlined by IMTA, Bord Bia continues to advise clients to continue their no deal Brexit planning.