IGD - Economics bulletin 20 November

Date : 20 November 2020

Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest guidance on COVID-19 and planning for the end of the transition period with the EU.

EU exit update

Talks about a trade deal between the UK and EU have been suspended for a short period after a member of the EU team tested positive for COVID-19. There has been some reported progress including the development of common draft treaty texts, though significant elements are yet to be agreed over competition rules - where governments give state aid support to businesses - and on fishing rights.

IGD continues to urge members to prepare for “no-deal”. See our EU Exit Checklist.

Visit the EU EXIT Foodhub which provides information for agri-food businesses to help them prepare for the end of the transition period including lists of Frequently Asked Questions.

Delays at ports

Delays are occurring at a number of ports, primarily Felixstowe, due to an increase in import traffic as companies increased orders after the lockdown and in preparation for the end of the transition period. There is also an issue with the IT computer booking system. There are reports that the number of containers being unloaded per hour is significantly reduced.

Defra is in discussions with the Department for Transport to look to resolve the issues.

Support for SMEs and EU partners

Preparations for EU Exit are thought to be especially weak amongst SMEs, many of whom lack resources. Larger food businesses are being encouraged to reach out to SME suppliers, as well as suppliers in EU countries, to make sure they are aware of what they need to do to be ready for the end of the transition period.

End of national lockdown in England

An announcement is expected next week on what restrictions will be in place In England following the end of the national lockdown in England scheduled for 2 December. The intention is to return to the established local “tiering” system, if the virus threat has abated.

Changes in COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland and Northern Ireland

From 6 p.m. today, eleven local authorities across western and central Scotland including Glasgow, will move from Level 3 to Level 4 restrictions.

Existing advice for people in level three or four not to travel outside their own council area except for "certain essential purposes" will become law from today. There will be exemptions for business and essential travel.

The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed on a two-week circuit breaker from Friday 27 November. This will see the closure of all retail except essential retail that was permitted to stay open in the Spring. It will also involve the closure of all hospitality (except for accommodation for essential travel).  Takeaway and delivery, and food and drink in motorway services, airports and harbour terminals remain open.

Seasonal farmworkers

Updated rules will mean that seasonal workers arriving in England to carry out vital work on farms ahead of Christmas will now be able to work as soon as they arrive in the country.

Seasonal poultry workers arriving from abroad will be able to work during their14-day quarantine period from 4 am on 17 November. They will still be required to self-isolate from the general public.

Travel corridor changes

The government has announced further changes to the list of “safer” travel destinations.

The following countries will be added to the exempt list from 4 am on Saturday 21 November:

  • Bonaire, St Eustatius, Saba, Israel, Jerusalem, Namibia, Northern Mariana Islands, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Uruguay and the US Virgin Islands

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