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EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement - Trade in agricultural products Q&A

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This article aims to answer some questions following the Trade and Cooperation Agreement concluded between the UK and the EU and provisionally in force from 1 January 2021.

Why can’t my seed potatoes be sold into the EU from 1 January 2021?

This goes to the heart of the UK’s third country status following its withdrawal from the EU. Under EU regulations, seed potatoes from third countries may only be sold in the EU if they are subject to same stringent guarantees as certified EU seed. Switzerland is the only non-EU country currently granted this equivalence, based on an agreement to keep its certification standards “dynamically aligned” to those of the EU. 

The UK has not been able to guarantee dynamic alignment to the standards imposed on EU-certified seed and the EU is concerned that the UK, although currently aligned, could move away from its standards in the future. Talks are ongoing to try to resolve matters, but the impacts on this specialist sector will be significant.

Imports of seed potatoes. The same absolute prohibition does not apply in reverse. There is a six-month period of grace on imports of seed potato varieties listed in the EU Common Catalogue, vital to ensure stability in the crisping and chipping supply chain in the short term.

Can vegetable crops still be imported tariff-free from Kenya?

Yes. The UK signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Kenya in early December. This rolls over, for Kenya, the terms of the corresponding East African Community/EU trade deal and means that from 1 January 2021 vegetables, cut flowers and other Kenyan products can be imported duty free into the UK. Without the EPA, the rates of duty listed in the UK Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSM) would have been imposed on imports.

The UK has signed a similar EPA with the South African Customs Union and Mozambique.  This means that imports from South Africa and other countries in the bloc will continue with the same preferential duties enjoyed on trade with the EU.

Least Developed Countries (LDCs), such as Senegal and Uganda enjoy quota-free access and nil rates of import duty on all goods other than arms and ammunition. This matters for those UK vegetable and salad producers who have production facilities in these countries to ensure year-round supply.

We export our cheese products to the EU. Does this Trade and Cooperation Agreement mean we can continue to use our own UK address on the packaging?

You can continue to include your own GB address, yes, but you must also include the address of an EU-established business (either the importer of your products, or your EU office if you have one). This is a clear-cut example of our third country status. Under EU law, pre-packaged food products sold in the EU must carry the name of an EU-based business. Here is a blog we published last year on this topic. 

For further information, please contact Julie Robinson or any member of the Roythornes Food and Drink team.