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The blow to small EU exporters to the UK could be similar to that experienced in 2021 by UK exporters to the EU, many of whom simply stopped selling their products in mainland Europe because post-Brexit rules made it too strenuous and expensive. Since 1 January 2021 (when the UK officially exited the European single market) British exporters have had to contend with increased bureaucracy and costs, and their customers have been discouraged by the resulting price increases. This is despite claims by Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and other Brexiteers that leaving the EU would simplify the rules and bring down prices. The rules on agri-food imports came into force on January 1, 2022 (after a postponement decided in September 2021).

Trade associations argue that the problems will mainly affect smaller operators, as larger operators can afford to pay customs agents or freight forwarders to carry out the bureaucratic formalities on their behalf. At customs On Britain’s main shopping streets, some shopkeepers are already worried about the empties that will appear on their shelves in 2022 and rising prices. El Colmado, Bristol’s only Spanish deli, imports just about everything: chorizo sausages, great Serrano ham hams, and sparkling green olives. Its owner, David Pavon, 41, expects new problems and rising prices when importers are required to make real-time customs declarations, enter food import details into various customs systems, and obtain special codes that allow trucks to be loaded onto ferries.

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