Brexit risks gaps on shop shelves, says retail body BRC

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Brexit risks gaps on shop shelves, says retail body BRC

Brexit risks gaps on shop shelves, says retail body BRC: Brexit brings risks of food shortages if the UK does not resolve issues around customs processes, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned. While the UK has outlined its vision for customs arrangements after Brexit, the retail trade body said it was still waiting for crucial details.

It said European supply chains were “key” to delivering everyday goods.

But Brexit campaigners said technology meant there would be “no need for hold-ups at borders”.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she wants to avoid a “cliff-edge” for businesses when the UK leaves the European Union in March 2019.

The BRC called for significant investment in ports and transport infrastructure to ensure new systems are ready when Brexit takes place.

It also said agreements were needed to prevent goods being held up at the border because of extra checks.

“Whilst the government has acknowledged the need to avoid a cliff-edge after Brexit day, a customs union in itself won’t solve the problem of delays at ports,” said the trade body’s chief executive, Helen Dickinson.

“So to ensure supply chains are not disrupted and goods continue to reach the shelves, agreements on security, transit, haulage, drivers, VAT and other checks will be required to get systems ready for March 2019.”

The body said disruption or additional costs would “affect availability on the shelves, increase waste and push prices up”.

Earlier this month, the UK government produced a paper setting out two proposals to replace its membership of the EU’s customs union.

The first was an “innovative and untested approach”, which would mean no customs checks at UK-EU borders.

Its alternative proposal – a more efficient system of border checks – would involve “an increase in administration”, it admits.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday that none of the UK’s Brexit papers provided so far were satisfactory.

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