Meat industry proposes new approach to minimise impact on trade with EU

Food and feed trade associations, hauliers, farmers and veterinary and environmental health professional organisations have joined forces to call for streamlined processes to resolve crippling restrictions to exports to the EU. 

In a new report on Minimising SPS Friction in EU Trade, the SPS Certification Working Group, a cross-industry, veterinary and environmental health group, says the new relationship between Great Britain and the EU has meant that British businesses now face a plethora of new requirements imposed on exports to the EU. These include international sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls which significantly add to bureaucracy, cost and time.

British poultry meat producers have faced insurmountable difficulties with Brexit red tape and disruption at the UK-EU border. Time-consuming checks have resulted in meat exports to the EU dropping sharply, with overall poultry exports decreasing in value by 69% the first quarter of the year in addition to significantly impacting business viability. Chicken specifically saw a 62% decrease in volume and a 67% decrease in value, from around £90 down to £30 million (HMRC).

As part of the SPS Certification Working Group, the British Poultry Council has called on the Government to resolve the severe impact on trade through a new approach:

  • Negotiate a form of mutual veterinary agreement with the EU to ease problems of trading food and feed between GB and EU and NI, and then the EU to GB when import controls take effect. Equivalence of standards is essential to time-sensitive, agile trade.
  • Improve current systems to remove bureaucracy, reduce time, error, and costs. This includes an integrated, end-to-end electronic documentation system that uses existing technology to ease the confusion and delays of paper-based systems.
  • Review requirements for inspection and certification which maintain both fairness and competitiveness. The urgency of this cannot be underestimated as we begin the countdown to the implementation of full GB import controls which will further stretch systems and resources.

BPC Chief Executive, Richard Griffiths, said: “The bureaucracy of ‘third country’ trading is eroding the capability and profitability of exporting products of animal origin to the EU and NI. If exporting sectors, including poultry meat, are to survive and thrive under Global Britain’s established Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), new ways of managing the system must be arranged to secure the viability of British business going forward.

Government must engage with the EU to build a system that works for exporters rather than against them. Without Governmental support in investing in sufficient resources and systems, we can expect a detrimental effect on the sustainability of British poultry meat businesses, and severely impact our ability to carry on feeding the nation.”

The report has been published ahead of an evidence session on a potential EU-UK veterinary agreement from the cross-party UK Trade and Business Commission, which which will hear from leading industry representatives, including the British Veterinary Association, British Poultry Council, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the NFU.

Roger Gale MP, who sits on the Commission, said: “This important report highlights the systemic challenges facing food exporters and the need for urgent solutions. This will all help inform the cross-party recommendations we are developing on how current barriers to trade with the EU can be addressed.”


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