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Brexit Weekly Digest - 20 August

This week we report on the trade imbalance between Great Britain, Ireland and Northern Ireland, chicken producers blame Brexit for national staff and supply shortages, and the UK aims to start trade talks with India. Plus, we share the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce September events running to support businesses post-Brexit.

Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce: September Events

The GMCC is hosting various online events in September as part of its commitment to support businesses in Greater Manchester to navigate their international trade journey:


Exports from Ireland to Great Britain soar in post-Brexit trade imbalance

Irish goods exports to Great Britain (excluding Northern Ireland) rose by 20% to £5.7bn in the first six months of 2021, whereas imports from Great Britain to the Republic of Ireland fell by more than 32% in the same period, according to a report by the Irish Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The decline in British exports is reportedly due to the border checks that have been placed on shipments to the EU since 1 January 2021 as part of the Brexit trade deal (The Guardian).


UK aims to start trade talks with India this year

This week the UK government announced negotiations for a trade agreement with India are due to start by the end of the year (Reuters). A spokesperson from the Department for International Trade said, “We are currently in the pre-negotiation scoping phase of an FTA (free trade agreement), with the aim of starting negotiations by the end of this year”.

In May, Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced the launch of a 14-week consultation to seek views from the public and business regarding a trade deal with India. The consultation follows the Enhanced Trade Partnership (ETP) agreed at the virtual meeting between the Prime Minister and PM Modi on May 4, where they launched a ‘2030 Roadmap’ which will provide a framework for UK-India relations. The ETP creates immediate opportunities for British businesses in India across industries such as food and drink and life sciences by improving market access.

Since leaving the EU, Britain has initiated new trade deals, notably the FTA with Australia as part of their approach to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific (CPTPP).


Chicken producers blame Brexit for staff and supply shortages

One of the largest supermarket chicken suppliers, 2 Sisters Food Group, said “one in six jobs were unfilled as a result of EU workers leaving the UK after Brexit” (The Guardian). The group is also part of the British Poultry Council (BPC), which has also highlighted the significance of staff shortages, as businesses are reporting an average vacancy rate of over 16% of their total workforce (BPC).

BPC Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said: “Members are telling us that many have been forced to cut back weekly chicken production by 5-10%, all year-round turkey production by 10% and estimate Christmas turkey production to be cut down by a 20%. UK food security will be hit with a double whammy of food inflation and being forced to rely on more imported food. This can only lead to a two-tier food system where high-quality British food is out of reach for many struggling consumers”.

National chicken-based chains KFC and Nando’s have experienced shortages and supply chain issues recently, with Nando’s facing a partial closure of their restaurants. Supermarkets are also struggling to fill shelves due to an ongoing shortage of HGV drivers.

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