Brexit: Deal or no deal?

We live in exciting times. Will grower Jaap in the current season of the Dutch TV programme ‘Farmer Wants a Wife’ find the love of his life? Will plant and flower exports exceed the 6-billion-euro mark, just like last year? And how are the Brexit negotiations going to pan out?

I’m glad to say that questions regarding grower Jaap don’t end up on my desk. But with regards to the export turnover, I’m often asked for information. And when it comes to Brexit, my phone has been ringing off the hook; more and more often by our own constituencies, but mostly by the press.

I wrote down all the press calls I received one week: BBC radio, BNR, Al-Jazeera, Swedish national TV, Finnish national TV, RTL-Z, Dutch newspapers NRC Handelsblad, Noord-Hollands Dagblad, Leidsch Dagblad and De Telegraaf, as well as Dutch Radio 1 and the New York Times.

Almost conspicuously, they all ask the same questions: ‘What’s the impact on your sector?’ and ‘How are your companies preparing for Brexit?’. Immediately followed by the request for a company visit, so they can see it all in action, preferably today please.

I agreed with myself that I’d continue to talk to the trade press, and that I’ll only talk to any other press once there’s clarity regarding the outcome of the negotiations and the activities that we, as a branch organisation, are working on with the many partners in the horticulture sector. Companies are also getting a bit fed up with all the curious journalists. They’d rather focus on preparing for the future. But who knows what’s coming? What should you prepare for?

It’s all been said and written before, but I’d like to repeat that as a company, you should get ready for third-country exports. Register your company as an exporter with customs, Quality Control Bureau (KCB) and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). Make sure you’re set up for digital declarations by installing the eCertNL software.

Make sure you know how it works and try to integrate it with your own supply management software. Expect an increase of your costs because of inspections and be aware that the logistics process is going to change dramatically.

Closing your web shop this afternoon and deliver in the morning? I’m not sure you’ll still be able to promise that. Talk to your supplier, customer and carrier, and try to work out together how the UK’s departure from the EU is going to affect you. You can count on Brexit going ahead – let’s hope for a long transition period.

I’ll keep the press away from you, and you’re going to focus on preparing for the future… deal?

Matthijs Mesken

Director VGB

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