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Disruption to supply "will be manageable" post-Brexit

Disruption to supply

Thursday 26 November 2020

Disruption to supply "will be manageable" post-Brexit

Brexit modelling indicates that there will not be a winter food shortage, even if the UK fails to secure a trade deal that includes the Bailiwick by the end of the transition period.

The UK's transition out of the Eurpean Union will end this year, with officials still trying to thrash out a deal and several key issues - such as trade and fisheries - yet to be agreed.

Fears have been raised that the Channel Islands could yet be collateral damage as the UK seeks to consolidate its own territorial waters, while negotiations remain ongoing about the future of trade when Protocol 3 falls away. 

"Many parts of our relationship with the EU will not, on the face of it, directly change," said External Affairs Minister Jonathan Le Tocq. "Protocol 3 allowed for us to be in the EU Customs Territory and benefit from free movement of goods. However, the Bailiwick has always been treated as a third country by the EU for all other purposes, such as financial services.

"This will continue after the Transition Period ends, underpinned by WTO rules where they apply. The concept of the single market and free movement of goods has widened since Protocol 3 took effect decades ago and this will inevitably be reflected in our new relationships."


Pictured: Freight deliveries are expected to continue whatever happens in trade talks before the end of the year (Credit: Chris George).

Discussions to include the Bailiwick in the future UK-EU relationship have focussed on a goods-based relationship that mitigates, as far as possible, the impacts caused by the end of our long-standing agreements with the EU.

"Our future trading relationships will need to recognise the size and scale of our economy, and should be underpinned by the principles of relevance, proportionality and practicality," said Deputy Le Tocq.

"Any new UK-EU trading relationship must not damage the trading relationship between the Bailiwick and the UK, the centuries-old constitutional relationship between the Bailiwick and the Crown nor the Bailiwick's domestic autonomy."

In the short-term, some delays are anticipated in January regardless of the outcome of ongoing talks, however Deputy Le Tocq has warned that stockpiling will harm not help the Bailiwick's position.  

"Some manageable disruption can be expected whether or not a UK-EU agreement is reached, due to the end of the UK's participation in the EU Customs Union and Single Market," he said.

"Islanders are used to occasional weather-related disruptions to supplies, but all the modelling has shown that if there is no trade deal there might be a temporary lack of choice or delays for some EU foodstuffs, but no shortage of food overall. There is no need to stockpile or panic buy. Just as in the spring lockdown, any stockpiling just disrupts supply chains and denies other people access to essential goods."

Deputy Jonathon Le Tocq

Pictured: Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq is Policy & Resources' lead on external affairs. 

While the States is preparing for a scenario in which there is no further progress made between the UK and EU, Deputy Le Tocq said that is "clearly not in Guernsey's interests" 

"The Committee and officials from across the States have been relentless, and fearless, in defending the islands' interests.

"The negotiations remain unpredictable and various 'final deadlines' have come and gone. One thing is certain at this late stage, we will need to work quickly and flexibly if any deal is agreed to ensure our own domestic constitutional arrangements are respected."

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