New import risk categories could spark unintended consequences
This week the Government published the new risk categories for imports of animal and plant products for countries outside of the EU which set out the controls that will apply to these goods when they’re exported to Great Britain from 30 April 2024.
When we were part of the EU, the UK relied on Europe’s team of assessors to do these risk assessments. They were regularly dispatched – at considerable cost – to trading partner countries like Brazil and New Zealand to physically inspect meat plants and to interrogate them in-depth. Now the UK is responsible for its own risk assessments, it’s our understanding that they’re simply based on documentation and historical dealings, but not yet backed-up by on-the-ground inspections.
Currently, the industry has been given very little detail about how these new UK risk assessments have been carried out and the criteria they’re based on. Questions are being asked as to whether they will provide the EU, our most important trading partner, with sufficient confidence in the UK’s biosecurity status, particularly as we now require less stringent checks on product from our other trading partners than the EU does. More importantly, will this disparity in import checks impact our ability to export to the EU, or will it provoke them to ask for additional checks on our exported goods?
The British meat industry relies on its ability to export to the EU parts of the animal for which there is no market here in the UK. Without that ability to extract value from the whole animal (otherwise known as ‘carcase balance’) that lost revenue would have to be recouped from the domestic market which would mean higher prices in the shops.
We still have a little time left before this new system becomes operational in April next year, which means that there is still time to uncover and iron-out these potential issues and ensure that we avoid introducing extra friction and cost into our food supply chain. BMPA’s trade expert, Peter Hardwick will be giving evidence at the upcoming House of Lords Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland evidence session next Wednesday 13th September, when they will be explaining these concerns and more.