As Britain negotiates its way out of the European Union, the Fairtrade Foundation is warning that Brexit could land some of the world's poorest countries with a new tax bill of at least £1 billion - or could provide an opportunity for the UK to made new trade deals that hugely benefit these communities. Mia Womersley reports
New figures show Brexit could make or break farmers from some of the world's poorest countries. The Fairtrade Foundation says negotiating new trade deals as the UK leaves the EU could be hugely beneficial for producers... Or could mean at least 1 billion pounds in extra taxes and import tariffs for those least able to shoulder the cost. At the moment, EU measures mean that the products Britain imports from 116 developing countries are exempt from charges or taxes. As the UK government sets about orchestrating the divorce, Fairtrade says the livelihoods of those producing bananas, coffee and sugar, would be seriously damaged if equivalent rules aren't put in place. (Soundbite) Charles Chavi, Malawian sugar cane farmer, saying (English): "The UK remains our biggest market at the moment, for example last year we sold 15,800 tonnes of sugar in the EU market and over 90% of that was sold here in the UK. We are concerned that should the vote for Brexit lead to loss of opportunity to deal with the UK, it means our farmers would not be able to provide for their families and would be pushed back into poverty." Theresa May has said she wants Britain to become a 'great global trading nation'. Tim Aldred at Fairtrade says the UK has an unprecedented opportunity. (Soundbite) Tim Aldred, The Fairtrade Foundation, saying (English): "We have been encouraged that government has said they want to see trade working for development, they see this as something they want to achieve, but as yet we've not seen any detail. It would be very easy for government to focus on trade deals with larger countries understandably, but let's not forget about the poorest countries like Malawi and Mozambique, for whom a decision on trade will mean the difference between a growing economy or an undermining of jobs and a regression back." May has said she'll trigger Article 50 by the end of March, Fairtrade says the UK is at a pivotal point and could be a leader in striking trade deals with a conscience.