Spain’s olive oil exports to the UK dropped 35% in the first two months of this year compared to the same period last year, Olive Oil Times reported the country’s Union of Farmers and Livestock Unions as saying on 10 May.

The figures represented the first analysis of Brexit’s impact on Spanish agri-food exports to the UK, the report said. The trade deal struck between the EU and UK came into effect on 1 January.

Further sharp decreases in olive oil exports could be expected due to sanitary and phytosanitary requirements that came into effect in April, the unions warned.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which was fully ratified in April, had been provisionally operational since January and followed years of negotiations aimed at maintaining tariff and quota-free trade in the wake of Brexit, Olive Oil Times wrote.

While the agreement could avoid the imposition of tariffs, it had greatly increased the amount of paperwork required to trade with the UK as a non‑EU member, the report said.

According to figures released by the UK’s Office of National Statistics in March, imports from the EU had fallen by 28% in the first two months of the year as additional checks and bureaucratic hurdles had impeded the free flow of products.

Total Spanish agri-food exports had fallen by 4.9% during the period, with sales of oils and fats being hit particularly hard, including the 35% drop in olive oil shipments, the Olive Oil Times report said.

According to the Union of Farmers and Livestock Unions, which was calling on the Spanish government to assist exporters, a new requirement for phytosanitary certificates and border checks would lead to a further slowdown of shipments and add to the cost and bureaucracy of post-Brexit trading.

“In the opinion of the Union of Unions, the state diplomatic services should act to re-establish and consolidate these commercial flows, encouraging the purchase of Spanish products by British citizens and companies,” the group said.

The UK imported about €137M (US$167M) of Spanish olive oil in 2020, making it Spain’s fifth largest export market.