Time is definitively up on January 1st 2021. Deal or no deal, Brexit will happen. We organized two Brexit webinars on December 2nd and 4th together with FloraCulture International (FCI) and the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH). The huge presence of floricultural stakeholders proves once again how many questions there still are about the UK leaving the EU. The main question being: how to prepare?
There’s still no trade agreement and the future is uncertain. Different speakers - from policy makers to growers – shared their vision to bring a more precise picture to the global ornamental horticultural industry and future trade with the United Kingdom. The first webinar was mainly focused on trade in plants, trees and flower bulbs. During the second webinar international speakers dived into the effects of Brexit on cultivation and trade in cut flowers.
Uncertainty on both sides of the channel
Sally Cullimore (policy maker at Horticultural Trades Association) gave an insight into different challenges the floriculture industry in UK will be facing shortly. She foresees some problems, especially in the field of (ICT) systems and administrative processes that simply aren’t ready for the new situation. We need workable solutions for processes like border control, classification of plants and phytosanitary certificates. And of course the question remains what all these changes are going to cost the industry.
In turn, Stefan Koopman (market economist at Rabobank) expressed his worries about the British side of the channel. The ‘holy trinnity’ between the corona pandemic, Brexit and unemployment could get the country into a tricky situation. He states that the push for sovereignty has a price that will have a negative effect on the country’s potential rate of growth and may make it less attractive for foreign capital.
Ian Michell (Flamingo Group UK) also sees a couple of challenges ahead. Beside the extra tariffs and duty leading to more costs, plant health is an important aspect to look at. He’s particularly worried about the huge volume of freight the UK is going to have to handle, leading to delays in the supply chain. Ian says the UK has to prepare to hold more stock without decreasing the value of perishable goods like cut flowers.