Europatat calls on policy makers to break seed potato trade deadlock

Published: December 24, 2021

Europatat on seed potato trade deadlock

Almost one year after Brexit there is still no agreement on trade in seed potatoes, Europatat pointed out recently.

The European Potato Trade Association is therefore calling on European Union (EU) and UK policy makers to break the deadlock and to reach an agreement on the resumption in the bilateral trade of seed potatoes. ‘It is especially important that this is done soon, so as to avoid the possibility of regulatory divergence emerging between the EU and UK markets, further hindering the opportunities for mutually beneficial bilateral trade’, the association points out.

Lack of agreement
Europatat states that Brexit is having a significant impact on trade in seed potatoes between the EU and Great Britain (GB). Since 1 January 2021, the EU no longer allows the import of seed potatoes from GB due to the lack of an agreement over equivalence of the pertinent regulations. In response to this, the UK government introduced the same restriction from 1 July 2021.

Highlight the impact of no agreement
As the European Parliament held a public hearing on “the impact of Brexit on European agricultural markets”, Europatat used this opportunity to highlight the impact of no agreement on the potato sector. ‘For many years, EU growers had relied on imports of seed potatoes from GB. Likewise, many EU seed potato producers had annually exported significant quantities of seed potatoes to GB. The EU supplied GB annually with between 25,000 – 30,000 tonnes, and the same quantity was traded in the opposite direction’, the association explains.

Potential opening
The director of the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) at The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), Ton van Arnhem, recently told PotatoWorld magazine that the influence of Brexit on Dutch seed potato export is a sensitive trade policy. ‘But we see a small potential opening’, Van Arnhem stated. ‘It could be possible to export seed potatoes to the UK again by drawing up and submitting an equivalence request. To investigate whether this is possible, we are currently analyzing British phytosanitary legislation. We will then share our findings with the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and with the potato industry. After this, the Netherlands could hold bilateral consultations with the UK,’ the director explained, adding that he has no idea how long that process will take and does not know if it will actually be possible to gain market access.

Ton van Arnhem on brexit and seed potatoes
‘It could be possible to export seed potatoes to the UK again by drawing up and submitting an equivalence request’, said Ton van Arnhem, director of the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) at The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).