Dutch propose post-Brexit solutions to fast-track perishable exports to U.K.

February 01 , 2019

The Netherlands has proposed a solution that could avoid potential delays and disruptions to produce exports to the U.K. if it leaves the European Union (EU) without a deal in place with the economic bloc

The country currently ships around US$1.4 billion of fruit and vegetables to the U.K. annually – equivalent to 50,000 trucks crossing the channel every year, the BBC reported. 

Currently, British supermarkets can place an order with a Dutch company and have the produce on their shelves within 24 hours, but a no-deal Brexit could result in delays of several days while it is inspected and goes through customs.

While the U.K.’s customs authority HMRC says it has “well-developed plans” for a functioning system from day one, fruit and vegetables are the Dutch exports most vulnerable to disruption.

“The nightmare is our tomatoes and cucumbers rotting at the border,” Gert Mulder, director of GroentenFruit Huis, the national fruit and vegetable growers’ body, was quoted as saying.

“British supermarkets have stock for around three days. They don’t have any storage capacity. So it would have to be built. But there isn’t time. The orders have already been placed. The plants are already growing.

“Of course we read about the British who are stockpiling food. If the supply chain fails the shelves will be empty. It is our job as producers to find a solution.”

According to the BBC, the Dutch have come with an idea designed to fast-track perishable products, called “green lanes”.

This would involve a digital pre-clearance system to allow customs checks to be conducted before the trucks arrive at the ports. All information, including certificates, would also be uploaded to a database.

U.K. customs officials would check lorry cargoes remotely before they even disembarked from the ferries, and vehicles approved in advance would be given a special “green lane” to avoid any customs queues.

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