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No Deal scenario would damage pig industry

23rd Aug 2018 / By Alistair Driver

A ‘No Deal’ scenario would have a negative impact on the UK pig sector, damaging in particular the industry’s ability to export pork to the EU, according to the NPA.

Dominic RaabIn fact it would be easier to export pigs to China than the EU, initially at least, if we leave without a deal, NPA senior policy Ed Barker has warned.

The association said the publication today of a range of technical notices highlighting the implications of a No Deal only serve to underline the importance of securing an agreement with the EU.

You can view the various papers published today here

In reality, the papers relating to agriculture do not add significantly to what we already knew about the implications of not having a deal in place by the time we leave the EU.

“Although we have only seen a handful of all the technical notices that will be published, it will come as little surprise to us that a ‘no deal’ scenario would bear considerable impacts to the UK pig sector,” Ed said.

“The most striking challenge lies in the difficulties of the UK exporting products to the EU as it would be treated as a third country in such a scenario. In 2017 the UK exported 157,000 tonnes of pork to the EU, worth £208m, and this still represents our biggest export market for pork.”

In this eventuality, new arrangements for trade would kick in from March 2019. Exporters would have to familiarise themselves with new export codes and processes, while anyone exporting would have to deal with serious red tape that will likely mean having an export agent to do it for them.

“Supply chains and contracts would have to be ‘reconsidered’ in light of this. In essence it is not seamless at all and the costs and barriers of moving the product would be prohibitive. This would offer difficulties in the export in cull sows with the irony that exporting pig products to China will probably be easier on Day One,” Ed added.

“With such an integrated supply chain in pork, it is difficult to see what exporters can do to adequately prepare for third country status without passing on costs to producers, or seeing this export trade as fundamentally unviable. With further uncertainties about the future status of permanent migrant labour, the notices only underline the NPA’s call for a need for all parties to find a suitable EU/UK deal that allows a continuity in frictionless trade.”

The notice on organic farming highlighted some of the industry's concerns. Organic products would not be allowed into the EU until UK organic certification bodies are officially recognised by the EU Commission – as this stands, this approval could take up to nine months.

BLT assurance 

Setting out what he described as ‘practical and proportionate’ advice in case the UK leaves the EU without a deal, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab stressed that reaching a deal with the EU was the ‘overriding priority’ and ‘by far the most likely outcome’. But he said ‘we must be ready to consider the alternative’.

He dismissed some of the ‘wilder claims’ about a No Deal. "Let me assure you that you will still be able to enjoy a BLT after Brexit, and there are no plans to deploy the Army to maintain food supplies," he said.