Defra has said it is confident the UK can avoid a ‘complete embargo’ on food exports in a no-deal Brexit.
The department issued the statement after the UK’s ‘listed status’, needed to send animal products to the continent in a no-deal scenario, was withdrawn by the EU.
‘Listed status’ is granted to all third countries which meet the bloc’s animal health and biosecurity standards, but the approval given to the UK earlier this year was only valid in the event of a no-deal Brexit on April 12.
Industry groups are concerned that failure to secure such status would mean a ‘complete and catastrophic embargo’ would be placed on all food exports to the EU.
A Defra spokesman said: “The European Commission previously recognised our exemplary animal health and biosecurity standards and voted to list the UK as a third country ahead of our potential exit from the EU in April 2019.
“Given the change in date for our exit from the EU, a further vote is required ahead of October 31. However, we are confident the UK will continue to meet the requirements for listing.”
NFU Brexit director Nick von Westenholz told Farmers Guardian this was an ‘example of the potential barriers to trade which could go up overnight’ in a no-deal Brexit.
“We hope the UK Government will again secure approved status ahead of October which will avoid a complete and catastrophic embargo on animal products being exported to the EU,” he said.
“But of course, exporters will still face big tariffs as well as checks and delays at the border which would be avoided in an orderly Brexit.”