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Brexit trade concerns not confined to UK pig sector

13th Sep 2016 / By Alistair Driver

It is not just British pig farmers who are getting nervous about the prospect of new free-trade arrangements in the post-Brexit world.

Ausflag1One of the big talking points around Brexit at the recent NPA summit was what it could all mean for the UK domestic pork market. 

Any trading arrangements eventually put in place with the EU are unlikely to differ dramatically from what we have in place today, although it could a very rocky road to reach that final destination.

But arguably the bigger concern is what sort of trade arrangements will be put in place with the likes of the US, Canada, Brazil and Australia. Currently EU tariffs add significant additional costs to imported pigmeat – 45p/kg for carcases – providing a blanket of protection for UK pig farmers.

New post-Brexit free trade deals, as the UK seeks to open its global trading links, could see this sort of protection consigned to history, with UK producers potentially finding themselves in competition with cheaper, lower standard imports from afar.

This concern was voiced by NPA chairman Richard Lister during a recent Brexit roundtable with Defra Ministers. 

And it appears these concerns are not confined to these shores.  Australian pig farmers are keeping a ‘very close eye’ on how any post-Brexit negotiation of UK/Australia trade deals are approached, according to Pig World.

Trade anxiety

Following recent reports of moves towards the development of free-trade routes between the UK and Australia, industry sources told PW the issue was causing anxiety among Australian producers.

The prospect of free trade with the UK comes on top of ongoing Australian concerns over the negotiation of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). 

This covers 12 Pacific Rim countries and was the focus of seven years debate before a final position was reached in February this year, although it still has to be officially ratified by the countries concerned.

“There was considerable anxiety across the pig industry when it was suggested that current restrictions on fresh pork would be relaxed as part of the TPP deal,” said an industry source.

 He said the prospect of the UK joining the free trade family would raise similar concerns.

“While we haven’t yet turned our minds to the pros and cons of such a deal, certainly not in any detail, if there is any suggestion that fresh meat will be imported I think there will be an outcry.”

  • UK fresh and frozen pork exports to Australia reached 1000 tonnes in the first half of 2016, massively up on the 24 tonnes exported in the first half of 2015, the latest AHDB figures showed.