fairtrade farmer



A no-deal Brexit could prove devastating for farmers in developing nations, according to a new report by the Fairtrade Foundation.

Countries reliant on the UK market such as the Dominican Republic, Belize, St Lucia and Ghana would suffer an “unnecessary economic shock” in the case of a no-deal departure from the EU, according to its report, Delivering a Fairtrade Brexit, released today (19 September).

The foundation warned emerging nations would only be able to take advantage of opportunities posed by Brexit - such as a potential UK preferential tariff scheme applying to more countries and a broader product range than the current EU equivalent - if a transition period was agreed prior to March 2019.

As it stood, overseas farmers were at risk of companies switching sourcing arrangements while preferential or zero tariffs offered by the EU could come to an end, forcing producers to pay workers less and squeeze suppliers in order to meet increased tariffs, the report claimed.

While all Fairtrade banana-exporting countries currently have access to a preferential trading arrangement with the EU - and the UK is responsible for 20% of EU banana consumption - it warned rolling over existing access could be problematic, forcing the UK to apply for a WTO waiver reducing or eliminating tariffs unilaterally.

“Without clarity on a withdrawal agreement and a transition period, many Fairtrade producers still don’t have guaranteed access to the UK market after Brexit day,” said report author and policy & advocacy manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, Helen Dennis.

“Fairtrade producers around the world will be watching these negotiations with bated breath as what is decided will directly impact them. There could still be an opportunity to rethink UK trade policy with development at the heart, but without swift progress to secure a deal, good work that has been built up to support farmers in developing nations will be at risk.”

The report also stressed the necessity of frictionless trade between the UK and EU, citing rose producers which traded directly with the UK, but also between the UK and the Netherlands adding to fears flowers and produce would wilt if an arrangement lengthened time spent at the borders.