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Trade focus turns to Canada and Mexico

13th Aug 2021 / By Charlie Dewhirst

After a flurry of media attention on the UK’s trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, things have gone somewhat quiet as negotiators work behind the scenes to agree the undoubtedly contentious details.

Charlie DewhirstWe won’t know more until the autumn when the texts are published and scrutiny of the full impact can begin.

In the meantime, there is plenty of other work going on elsewhere in the world of international trade.

CPTPP

In June, the UK began the formal accession process to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This trading bloc of 11 nations includes both Australia and New Zealand as well Japan, with whom we have also recently signed a new trade agreement.

Importantly, members of CPTPP also include Canada and Mexico, both of which we are due to begin bi-lateral trade negotiations with the UK this year.

While tariff/quota free agreements with Australia and New Zealand are unlikely to impact the UK pig industry directly, the same cannot be said of Canada. It is a major net exporter of pigmeat, selling over 100,000 tonnes abroad every month.

As yet, it sends very little to the UK but there is a danger that any trade deal could expose the UK’s domestic market to cheap Canadian imports. At the same time, the opportunity to export British produce to Canada is very limited because they are more than self-sufficient.

Mexico, on the other hand, is an opportunity for the UK. It is the eighth largest consumer of pork globally, and because consumption significantly outstrips production, it is the second largest importer of pigmeat, importing over one million tonnes annually.

The problem is that we are not currently able to export any pigmeat to Mexico because their Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) regulations prevent us from doing so.

However, negotiations had been at an advanced stage before the COVID pandemic and trade talks with Mexico are an opportunity to progress this and ensure that UK pigmeat has access before any deal is concluded.

India

Elsewhere, negotiations with India are likely to begin later in 2021 and this presents another opportunity for the UK industry, albeit over the longer term. Although only a small percentage of the Indian population eat pork, it still accounts for a very large number of people.

There is also the rapidly developing tourism sector, with food service opportunities in Goa and Kerala. Currently Indian pig production is made up largely of small, backyard operations and there will be surely opportunities as the industry commercialises.

It is important that any deal paves the way for UK businesses to take advantage of this potentially lucrative developing market.