Serious divergences’ hamper EU-UK trade deal
The fifth round of EU-UK negotiations took place in Brussels earlier this month.
Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier reiterated that following the high-level summit two weeks earlier - the EU had sought to “inject new dynamics” into discussions in order to “get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement”.
Barnier commented however that “…serious divergences remain” in order to reach a deal. The EU had “listened carefully” to PM Boris Johnson’s recent statements, including his wish for a post-Brexit agreement on fisheries.
Barnier stated that “the EU expects, in turn, its positions to be better understood and respected in order to reach an agreement. We need equivalent engagement by the United Kingdom. We continue to believe that an agreement is possible and in everybody’s interests”.
David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, similarly confirmed that “significant differences remain between us on a number of important issues”.
Talks are scheduled to continue in London from 6 July.
Seafish at the Grimsby & Humber Seafood Cluster Meeting
Seafish’s Regulation team took an active part in the Grimsby & Humber Seafood Cluster Meeting earlier this month.
Ivan Bartolo took a closer look at the potential benefits of a Freeport in the Grimsby/Humber area and considered the implications for Customs duties. He recommended that potential duty reductions would have to be considered on a case-by-case basis and in the context of other available duty reliefs. Lighter administration, a lower business risk and an attractive environment for inward investment were potential non-tariff benefits for businesses operating within the Freeport.
Fiona Wright gave a presentation on seafood labelling at the end of the Transition Period. Fiona concluded that:
- Food products placed on the EU market before 1 January 2021 can continue to be sold, distributed or transferred in the EU without labelling changes.
- Changes will be required to the labelling of food business operator (FBO) address, EU organic logo, EU emblem, EU health and identification marks, country of origin labels, EU health and identification marks, and Geographical Indication (GI) logos.
- Changes to labelling will come into force on 1 January 2021 with no transition period for goods destined for the EU.
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Exporters Forum ‘Zooms’ in on the end of the Transition Period
More than 50 people attended the second meeting of the Exporters Forum, which took place via Zoom last month. The purpose of the meeting was to consider the preparations exporters should make for the end of the transition period as well as for the recovery phase of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Defra provided a series of informative presentations on the Northern Ireland Protocol, catch certification, recovery phase support, non-EU free trade agreements and the EU-UK trade negotiations.
The Forum also welcomed presentations from the Animal & Plant Health Agency who showcased their new online Export Health Certificate system and UK Export Finance who provided information on their support packages.
Members found the information presented useful and appreciated the engaging nature of the discussions. The Exporters Forum is next due to meet in the Autumn.
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