British food and drink exports to EU fall by £2bn in first quarter of 2021

British food and drink exports to the EU fell by £2bn in the first three months of 2021, with sales of dairy products plummeting by 90%, according to an analysis of HMRC data. Read more: British food and drink exports to EU fall by £2bn in first quarter of 2021

British food and drink exports to EU fall by £2bn in first quarter of 2021

British food and drink exports to the EU fell by £2bn in the first three months of 2021, with sales of dairy products plummeting by 90%, according to an analysis of HMRC data.

Brexit checks, stockpiling and Covid have been blamed for much of the downturn, but the sector has said the figures show structural rather than teething problems with the UK’s departure from the EU.

“The loss of £2bn of exports to the EU is a disaster for our industry, and is a very clear indication of the scale of losses that UK manufacturers face in the longer-term due to new trade barriers with the EU,” said Dominic Goudie, the head of international trade at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

He called on the government to “stop prevaricating” over proposals to help exporters “shut out of trading with the EU”.

Sanitary and phytosanitary checks, which have been in the headlines in relation to Northern Ireland, apply to all food and drink exports going to the EU.

The HMRC figures show dairy products down more than 90% and exports of cheese down by two-thirds compared with 2020. Whisky fell 32%, chocolate 37% and lamb and mutton 14%.

Overall food and drink exports to Ireland fell by 70.8% year on year, to Spain by 63%, Italy 61% and Germany 55%.

Trade in the other direction was also hit. UK imports from the EU of wine were down 20%, fruit 15.7% and vegetables 13.9%. Imports of cheese, chicken and beef from Ireland and elsewhere also fell.

The decline in exports to the EU meant sales to the rest of the world, which have stabilised, now account for more than 50% of all British exports of food and drink.

The easing of Covid restrictions drove “strong growth” in exports to pre-pandemic levels in China, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

Exports to China were up by a quarter, driven by growth in the sale of pork, whisky and vegetable oils, said the FDF’s Trade Snapshot report.

There is also fresh hope of a boom in whisky exports to the US after Washington and London agreed to suspend retaliatory tariffs.

Read more:
British food and drink exports to EU fall by £2bn in first quarter of 2021

Source : Business Matters More   

What's Your Reaction?

like
0
dislike
0
love
0
funny
0
angry
0
sad
0
wow
0

Next Article

Employers can put self-isolating staff on furlough

Employers can claim from the furlough scheme for staff who are self-isolating. Read more: Employers can put self-isolating staff on furlough

Employers can put self-isolating staff on furlough

Employers can claim from the furlough scheme for staff who are self-isolating.

The entitlement exists despite government guidance stating it is not what the scheme is intended for.

The little-known entitlement was first reported by Politico magazine after emails from civil servants complaining about government guidance were leaked.

One email from a civil servant said the Treasury was “reluctant” to say the scheme could be used in such a way.

“Furlough can be used to cover self-isolation, but HMT [the Treasury] are reluctant to say this explicitly in guidance because it could lead to employees being furloughed who do not need to be,” Politico quoted one of the emails as saying.

“Incentive payments are too low to incentivise employees to take tests due to risk of loss of income.”

The emails quoted by the magazine said a senior official was concerned people might avoid taking tests because if they had to self-isolate, their incomes would drop to statutory sick pay level.

The Treasury said that far from hiding anything, it was there “in plain English” that employers could choose to furlough self-isolating staff.

Statutory sick pay requires employers to pay at least £96.35 per week when staff are off sick for more than four days, whereas the furlough scheme, also known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, pays 80% of an employee’s normal wages up to £2,500 per month.

A section in the government guidance on business support titled “If your employee is self-isolating or on sick leave”, says employees self-isolating or on sick leave as a result of Covid “may be able to get statutory sick pay”.

It adds that the Job Retention Scheme “is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness” and “short term illness or self-isolation should not be a consideration when deciding if you should furlough an employee”.

However, the guidance states if employers “want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so, as with other employees”.

The guidance also states employers “can furlough employees who are clinically extremely vulnerable or at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus”.

“It’s up to employers to decide if they will furlough these employees. An employer does not need to be facing a wider reduction in demand or be closed to be eligible to claim for these employees,” it says.

‘Always been clear’

Treasury officials argue the guidance makes it clear that employers can choose to put staff on sick pay or use the furlough scheme.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “It has always been clear that the purpose of the furlough scheme is to support jobs – we’ve been upfront about that from the start.

“The guidance sets out that the scheme is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness or self-isolation. We have a specific support package in place for those self-isolating due to coronavirus, including one-off payments for those on low incomes.

“If an employer wants to furlough an employee for business reasons and they are currently off sick then they are eligible to do so as with other employees. This has been set out in guidance since April last year.”

Bridget Phillipson, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, called the news “shocking”.

“The government were advised time and time again how crucial a proper self-isolation system is for curbing the spread of infection, and protecting people’s lives and livelihoods,” she said.

“It is shameful and reckless that the chancellor ignored professional advice and put countless people and workplaces at unnecessary risk when he had the opportunity to help.”

Rachel Harrison, national officer at the GMB union, said: “Suppressing advice on furlough eligibility during self-isolation is scandalous and incompetent.

“Lives will likely have been lost and higher infection rates will cost the NHS and employers far more in the long run.

“We need to know whether ministers approved the decision to withhold this advice. An urgent investigation should be established with accountability to Parliament.”

Read more:
Employers can put self-isolating staff on furlough

Source : Business Matters More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.