EU 'trying' to make Britain 'lose Northern Ireland' says expert
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The Horticulture Trade Association (HTA) is leading the calls after increased costs and restrictions to export to the EU caused a marked drop in the value of plant trade in the first six months of the year. Research conducted by the body which represents British garden centres and landscape gardeners claimed exports of live plants and plant materials from the UK to the EU between January and June this year were valued at £9.7million.
This is down from £16million in the same period in 2019, a decrease of 39 percent.
The Association argues a new plant health agreement would enable the multi-billion pound plant and gardening sector to boost UK economic growth and fuel international trade post-Brexit.
Ministers could bring forward a new deal by first reviewing existing inspection levels and costs.
Chiefs argue the European Union (EU) is still the largest market for British horticultural products but the industry is not growing due to extra new administrative costs and restrictions.
This is resulting in British horticulture businesses choosing not to pursue markets in the EU.
James Clark, Director of Policy and Communications at the HTA, said: “We had long suspected that this heavy-handed regime would put too many barriers in the way of those who had hoped to grow a customer base in Europe.
“Much of the £24billion horticulture industry is made up of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) who want to champion ‘green trade’ and export the hugely iconic British plants, seeds and trees we produce here.
“However, the bureaucratic obstacles and huge costs are making it business-sapping and unviable.
“This is preventing SMEs to grow and lead a post-Brexit trade renaissance.”
David Fryer, Head of Technical at seed company Mr Fothergill’s of Newmarket, added: “We’re having to spend so much time navigating the cost of inspections and certificates, the cost of planning and management and the risk of consignment delays or rejections, plus limitations on what we can export now and reduced customer confidence that we are unable to focus on growth in the EU while we manage these new ways of working.”
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