WHAT was a simple one-step process of exporting meat to France in December is now a resource-draining 23-step marathon.

The costs to business that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Government has created by insisting on hard Brexit at the height of the coronavirus pandemic are mounting, those in key industries such as food and drink production say as they redouble their efforts to be acknowledged.

Exports ran at 50 per cent pre-transition period volumes during the first six weeks of the year since the great borders sovereignty fiasco, a new British Meat Processors Association report reveals.

It found most companies in the sector now expect a permanent 20% loss of export trade, and some expect as much as half of their business to be lost.

HeraldScotland: The Prime Minister arrives or a press conference. Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images.The Prime Minister arrives or a press conference. Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images.

Those in industry highlight unworkable processes, but it seems to be ignored.

As the European Union and AstraZeneca, the British-Swedish pharma giant, continue talks over vaccine provision, it is unfortunate the Prime Minister has to reportedly backtrack citing greed and capitalism as winning the UK its vaccine prowess to backbenchers, all later said not to be associated with any EU issues.

AstraZeneca is not taking profit from the vaccine, instead covering its costs.

Below: Changes in imports and exports, by goods commodity group, excluding unspecified goods, January 2021 compared with December 2020, EU and non-EU

The food producers’ latest push was first highlighted by Business Editor Ian McConnell. As the UK Meat Industry Brexit Impact Report showed the extent of the damage, a UK Government minister stands accused of “painting a picture of a resurgent Great Britain on the international trade front”, he says in his Called to Account column this week, writing: “It is not clear how exporters can enter this seemingly utopian alternate reality occupied by the Boris Johnson Cabinet – a dimension with many flags.”

Below: Explore UK trade in goods country-by-commodity data for 2020

This comes as further pressure is put on the jobs market. Business Correspondent Kristy Dorsey uncovers that “as the UK’s vaccination programme continues at steady pace, a new battlefront is opening up on the employment field with reports that many British companies are looking to draw up ‘no jab, no job’ contracts for existing and future staff”.

HeraldScotland: Only a fraction of seasonal workers are available. Joe Giddens/PA WireOnly a fraction of seasonal workers are available. Joe Giddens/PA Wire

In his Thursday column, Deputy Business Editor Scott Wright turns his focus on Scottish shipbuilding: “A noteworthy milestone was reached earlier this month which may signal better days lie ahead for the Ferguson shipyard on the Clyde.”

Also this week, Edinburgh-based Nucleus Financial chief executive David Ferguson has said a planned takeover of the firm that staff have opposed could be good for the business despite uncertainty about what it will mean for employees including himself, Business Correspondent Mark Williamson writes in his latest update on the ongoing process.

Meanwhile, retailers welcomed the Scottish Government’s plan to hold a public consultation on keeping shops from trading on New Year’s Day. David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, says: “Banning trading permanently on Ne’er Day is short-sighted considering customers can already shop online whenever they choose.”

He adds: “Implementing a permanent prohibition on trading flies in the face of the strenuous efforts that have made over recent years prior to Covid to promote Scotland as a visitor destination at New Year.”

His position is not surprising when you see the latest Office for National Statistics shopping figures out yesterday.

Retail sales volumes did recover slightly in February, increasing 2.1% when compared with the 8.2% fall seen in the previous month, with sales still down by 3.7% on a year earlier, pre-pandemic.

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