15 Mar 2019

Brexit: the New Zealand link

From Country Life, 9:07 pm on 15 March 2019
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Photo: Ross Miller

Jeff Grant is New Zealand's Red Meat Sector representative in London, there to keep an eye on Brexit. For Country Life, he puts a human face on some of the implications.

As things stand at the moment, British MPs have voted to ask the European Union to delay Brexit beyond 29 March to allow the government more time to reach a deal.

At present, there is a slim chance that Britain will simply be forced to leave the EU with no deal in place as all 27 EU member states must agree to extend the deadline.

The Easter chilled lamb trade is hugely important to New Zealand, and while our exporters would've liked an early Easter this year, (to miss the March 29 time frame) Grant says protocols are in place to cope with any possible Brexit outcome: from a crashing out of the EU, to an extended negotiation period.

However there is general concern about supplies of fresh, and longer shelf life commodities, and items like NZ wine and cured small goods are being stockpiled. The word is there is no food storage space left in Britain.

Behind all this however, Grant says the government has been peddling hard.

"There are two indications: one, they want security of supply so are doing everything to make sure there are no hold-ups into the country, and second they do not want empty shelves in the supermarkets."

Ten thousand trucks a day travel through Dover and any disruption that held them up for six minutes each would see a traffic jam from Dover to London within twelve hours, he says.

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