British Meat Processors Association
British Meat Processors Association

Government response to meat export barrier is disheartening and misses the point

We recently wrote to the Minister responsible for negotiating new trade deals, Kemi Badenoch, about an omission that was made in the deal with Australia that prevents British companies from seizing new export opportunities for our beef products. Our point was twofold: First, it can be put right quickly and second, that such a mistake should not be allowed to happen again in future negotiations.

So, we were disappointed to receive a reply that failed to take seriously the issues we’d raised, and which came from a completely different department that is not responsible for signing trade deals. Instead of taking on our industry’s concerns, Mrs Badenoch had punted them to the Minister of State for Food Farming and Fisheries.

The reply reminded us of the point we’ve been raising, that “market access negotiations to agree an EHC [Export Health Certificate] with a third country take an average of three to five years”. However this is not any third country. It’s Australia, with whom we already have a comprehensive free trade agreement. Indeed that agreement specifically does not require Australia to supply an Export Health Certificate to send shipments of Aussie sheep meat to Britain.

So, getting access for UK beef products should be a simple matter of requesting fast-tracking approval. As we said in our letter, this could be done “on the basis of pre-listing, allowing trade to commence with audits taking place later and regularly thereafter in the normal manner”.

If we are going to preserve our future food security and viability, the British meat and livestock industry needs our politicians to work more collaboratively with the businesses who are operating on the front line of international trade. We need them to acknowledge the bigger picture and make properly thought-through policy that doesn’t throw up barriers to trade or cause unintended consequences.

About BMPA

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) is the leading trade association for the meat and meat products industry in the UK.

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