Ed's Brexit round-up
1st Sep 2017 / By Ed Barker
This week the NPA has been very active in Whitehall, meeting with Defra, the Department for International Trade (DiT) and the Department for Exiting the EU (DEXEU) to discuss the pig sector’s concerns and aspirations from the UK leaving the EU.
With DiT, we fed into discussions on how the UK, as an individual country, will be able to bring about trade disputes with other countries, if they are perceived to be acting unfairly, such as ‘dumping’ products, not adhering to required common standards, or unfairly subsidizing their sectors. So far this is carried out by the European Commission. However after Brexit such actions will be under the responsibility of the Government and individual producers, processors and trade bodies such as the NPA.
Defra, DiT and DEXEU
With Defra and DiT (combined) and later DEXEU, we enjoyed a very constructive meeting that allowed the NPA to outline where our concerns lie from cheaper imports produced to lower standards from outside the EU. Very few pork imports from outside the EU come into the EU. However after Brexit the UK market could be flooded by new imports, especially if new Free Trade Agreements are struck.
We were reassured that both departments understand the value of the British brand in providing assured, higher welfare products to consumers, and will seek to protect this. We also outlined where new markets can be sought for pig products, building on those developing markets in South East Asia. DiT were very interested in carcase balance for pig products and will explore how best to seek further markets outside of the EU. Despite this work being done, all parties are aware of the need for a smooth and continued EU trading relationship, that will allow UK producers to export to the continent whilst sourcing labour.
Last week, a group of free-market economists produced a report claiming that Britain could be better off if it takes a hard Brexit, whilst unilaterally eliminated trading barriers – including those from non-EU countries to the UK. The economists advocate importing cheaper food from outside the EU, despite the fact they are produced to standards not currently permitted in the UK.