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Brexit: UK horticulture businesses record 40% decline in EU plant exports in 2021

Administrative costs and restrictions have resulted in British horticulture businesses choosing not to pursue European markets



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12 August 2021

Increased costs and restrictions on the UK horticulture industry to export to the EU have seen a marked drop in the value of trade in the first six months of the year.

Research conducted by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) found that exports of live plants and plant materials from the UK to the EU between January and June this year were valued at £9.7 million, compared with £16 million in the same period of 2019 – a decrease of 39%. Rest of the world sales have remained broadly static.

The HTA said that although the EU is still the largest market for British horticultural products, the industry is not growing as it could post-Brexit. The extra administrative costs and restrictions have resulted in British horticulture businesses choosing not to pursue markets in the EU.

“We had long suspected that this heavy-handed regime would put too many barriers in the way of those who had hoped to grow a customer base in Europe,” said James Clark, Director of Policy and Communications at the HTA.

“Much of the £24 billion horticulture industry is made up of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) who want to champion ‘green trade’ and export the hugely iconic British plants, seeds and trees we produce here. However, the bureaucratic obstacles and huge costs are making it business-sapping and unviable. This is preventing SMEs to grow and lead a post-Brexit trade renaissance.”

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