A Brexit impact report for the UK meat industry has been prepared by The British Meat Processors Association.
It is designed to form the basis of a comprehensive discussion and, hoped for, overhaul of the current export certification system so future trade with the EU may be better supported.
The report firstly highlights the immediate ‘teething problems’ versus the systematic changes to the trading relationship; looking at the overall higher costs for customs declarations, customs agents, freight forwarders and additional veterinary inspections, that are rendering certain exports un-viable. Additionally, it is stated that even this headline figure doesn’t take into consideration the extra ‘hidden’ costs from higher freight insurance, there will also be extra administrative staff and higher haulage charges to compensate for longer delays. Even if the new processes get ‘bedded in’ they mean the UK is unlikely to be competitive within Europe and with this being the main fast-moving, high value chilled fresh food trade there are limited other markets for the UK to move towards.
Meanwhile, the UK Government has suspended all border checks on food coming into the UK from EU, so as not to experience shortages in supermarkets. This has had two undesirable effects. It represents a worrying lapse in food security and opens the door to food fraudsters and potentially to diseases like African Swine Fever. It also makes EU food imports much more competitive than UK exports because of much lower overhead costs. The point is made that at some point the UK must start imposing the same sanitary and phytosanitary checks on food being imported as are being done on the food that is exported to the EU.
Three key recommendations are highlighted by the report that should be worked upon;
- Ensuring flexibility, adaptability and cost effectiveness of veterinary checks;
- Providing for an integrated, end-to-end electronic tracing and certification system that is integrated across different systems with consistent guidance.
- Closer veterinary equivalency agreements with the EU.
This is an important document highlighting constructively steps that need to be taken straight away to seek to support the UK meat industry.