According to new statistics from the Netherlands (CBS), Brexit has dealt a major blow to Dutch food exports to the United Kingdom. In contrast, in the first eight months of 2021, fewer vegetables, meat and dairy products were imported from the British Isles than last year.
Exports of meat, dairy, fish, fruits and vegetables to the UK stood at 2.2 billion euros from January to August. This is 8.1 per cent less than the same period last year. According to the Netherlands, total Dutch exports of these products have actually grown by more than 5 percent. Compared to the first eight months of 2020, food imports from the UK have almost halved to 281 million euros.
Statistics show that the British have become less attractive trading partners since Brexit. The UK withdrew from the European Union on January 31, 2020. The new agreements and rules, including mutual trade, came into force on January 1, 2021. Free movement of goods ceased: No longer would food exporters who wanted to carry tomatoes, pears or cheese across the North Sea have to handle British customs. This leads to longer transportation time, additional checks and forms and – in the case of new plants and animal products – health certificates.
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In 2015, the British share of Dutch exports of food was 11.5 per cent, and now stands at 7.6 per cent. As a result, the UK has slipped from second to fourth place on the list of the most important trading partners in the region, after Germany, Belgium and France.
Fruits and vegetables, in particular, cross the North Sea relatively less than they did in 2015. While the total export value of fruits and vegetables has since increased by 34 per cent, exports to the UK have actually fallen by 14 per cent.
According to the Netherlands, Brexit will provide another drastic bill for the Dutch economy in the first eight months of this year. Goods imported from the UK, not manufactured or processed in that country, were subject to EUR 121 million in import duties. Due to mutual trade agreements, no levy was payable on most goods purchased from the British. Where they have to do it, it’s mainly about clothing, shoes and machinery made in a country outside the UK.
In contrast, the Netherlands offers many products to the British, for example, in China or the United States. Because, as a result of Brexit, import taxes now levied when crossing the North Sea, the so-called ‘re-export’ also collapsed.
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