Coldiretti, the union representing Italian farmers, has warned that the UK leaving the European Union without a trade deal threatens its EUR3.4bn (US$3.88bn) agri-food export trade with Britain.
The UK has until 29 March to agree a deal with the EU before a no-deal Brexit comes to fruition and Coldiretti is concerned about “tariffs and customs delays that would take place with the [UK’s] new status of third country compared to the European Union”.
Coldiretti comments come amid Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance planning a package of measures to attempt to ensure the continuity of trade in the event of a no-deal Brexit coming to pass.
The union pointed out the second most popular Italian agri-food product in the UK – after Prosecco – is fruit and vegetables, but stressed the role of pasta, cheese and olive oil is also important.
Hard cheeses, such as Grana Padana and Parmigiano Reggiano, which have an export value of EUR90m, also face being hit by a no-deal Brexit.
It suggested Brexit can become the “Trojan horse for the arrival of Parmesan in Europe”, as its geographical protection status (PDO) would be lost in the UK and similar products from Canada could hit the UK market.
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“Without agreement, a problem concerns the protection of products with a PDO / PGI designation with Italian exports of products with geographical indications and quality which account for about 30% of the total export of agri-food products made in Italy,” it said.
Ettore Prandini, president of Coldiretti, said: “The lack of an agreement is the worst scenario because it risks slowing down the flow of people, but the risk is that with the exit from the European Union there will be an unfavourable legislation in Great Britain for Italian agri-food exports.
“An example is the nutritional label with traffic lights on food that is spreading in most of the British supermarkets.”