UK non-profit organisation Banana Link has warned that Brexit could threaten supplies of Ghanaian bananas to the UK and cause job losses in the thousands for plantation workers in the West African country.
The warning comes after UK international trade secretary Liz Truss rejected calls from Ghana’s government to negotiate a post-Brexit trade deal that would be compatible with its regional commitments and would allow it to continue exporting bananas to the UK tariff-free from next year.
Instead, the organisation lamented, bananas from Ghana face a post-Brexit import duty of £95 per tonne.
“For a fruit that is already sold on very small profit margins, this will make exporting to the UK unprofitable,” Banana Link stated. “The prospect of post-Brexit import tariffs is leading UK supermarkets to refrain from entering into any buying commitments with Ghanaian producers for 2021.”
Faced with the same situation at the end of last year, Benedict Rich, managing director of Ghana’s largest banana producer, Golden Exotics, said that exporting to the UK would “no longer be profitable” and warned that 12,000 direct and indirect farm jobs were under threat.
Alistair Smith, international coordinator at Banana Link, commented: “It seems ironic that the Conservative Party, long time proponents of free trade, seem to have abandoned their principals when it comes to post-Brexit imports from one of our Commonwealth partners, and seem willing to threaten the livelihoods of plantation workers, and risk reducing the supply of low-cost nutritious fruit to our supermarkets.
In 2019, Ghana produced 83,000 tonnes of bananas, according to Banana Link, the majority of which was sent to the UK and sold through the Coop, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and M&S.
“Given that [the Conservative’s] 2019 election manifesto included a promise to ensure that the UK’s trade deals after Brexit would be fair, in particular towards developing nations,” said Smith, “we would urge the UK government to at least offer Ghana an interim tariff-free market access provision.”