As revealed at the FEPEX Assembly, held on October 21 via videoconference, Brexit is one of the main challenges ahead for the Spanish fresh fruit and vegetable producing and exporting sector. The lack of a trade agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom at the end of the transitional period will entail the payment of customs duties, which FEPEX has estimated at 198 million Euro per year, while its direct competitors, such as Morocco, will be exempt from paying tariffs.
The United Kingdom is the third largest market for the sector. Fruits and vegetables worth 1,160 million Euro were exported there in the first half of 2020, 9% more than in the same period of the previous year. In 2019, exports amounted to 1.5 million tons, 5% more than in 2018, and the value of those shipments reached 1,779 million Euro (+1%), according to data from the Department of Customs and Special Taxes.
Regarding the CAP, another of the issues analyzed at the meeting, the Assembly considered that the reform now underway should make it possible to correct the inequalities and discriminations that have led to the application of the current regime in Spain. The issue is that farms with similar agronomic and socioeconomic characteristics receive direct payments based on what are known as “historical rights”, which causes distortions in the competition between producers in the same situation and has a negative impact on their competitiveness; a situation that does not occur in other fruit and vegetable-producing Member States.
Also regarding the ongoing reform of the CAP, and specifically the new measures that would be applied as of 2023, the Assembly expressed interest in gaining access to the eco-schemes, a regime that would allow the sector to contribute significantly to environmental and climatic sustainability.
The FEPEX Assembly, chaired by Jorge Brotons, brings together representatives of the 31 Associations integrated and grouped into four activity sectors:
- The production and export of fresh fruits and vegetables; the biggest sector in the Federation, with 18 associations integrated.
- Potato production and marketing, with 4 associations.
- The production and marketing of processed fruit and vegetable products, with one national association.
- The production and marketing of live flowers and plants, with 8 associations.