The deputy director of the Representation of the European Commission in Spain, Jochen Müller, stated in an interview that the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union shouldn’t affect Spanish agri-food exports to that destination, the third-biggest destination for Spanish products.
Müller said that Spain had doubled its agri-food shipments to the United Kingdom in recent years. Spanish agri-food sales to the United Kingdom increased from 2,500 million euro in 2010 to more than 4,000 million in 2020, according to EC data. In fact, despite all the difficulties in 2020, exports to that market increased by 1%.
“The British have a good perception of the Spanish brands, quality, and products. Things aren’t going to change much,” he added. The sector must bet on quality to continue winning, he stated.
Customs difficulties in the first months after Brexit
The EC considers that, despite the differences, the exit agreement with the UK was good because it allowed Spanish exporters to continue marketing their goods there without new tariffs. However, since the United Kingdom left the EU market in January this year, there have been difficulties in customs due to new health certificates.
“In the first months, we saw that it will take time to adapt. However, things are going to improve and I hope we’ll soon be able to export to the UK as easily as to any other third country,” Müller said.
Regarding the Spanish producers’ fear that the UK opts for partners with more lax standards, he said the withdrawal agreement included environmental and phytosanitary guarantees and that the EC would ensure their compliance and application.
In fact, Brussels hopes that the UK will continue to opt for EU products: “We are very confident British consumers will continue to demand safe and quality products.”
He said this was noticeable in the negotiations that the United Kingdom was having with other countries, such as the US. “For example, the British market dislikes the US demand to accept GMOs or meat with hormones,” he stated.