Brexit issues for meat trade summarised

Brexit issues for meat trade summarised

A report into the European meat market has looked at some of the issues that the meat sector might face after Brexit and proposes practical points for clients in the industry.

According to Trading in the European Meat Market, by European law firm Fieldfisher, the EU has a “well-established and detailed administrative process for assessing whether meat products from non-EU states should be permitted to enter the EU”, subject to border inspections by official veterinarians.

It goes on to outline that, as a member state of the EU, the UK places “substantial reliance on the EU’s harmonised regulatory framework and administrative arrangements” on the EU’s regulatory framework and administrative arrangements.

This means that a “key challenge post-Brexit” will be “who picks up that regulatory burden inside the UK, in order to facilitate ongoing cross-border trade in meat”.

It adds that after Brexit day, and in the absence of new or transitional arrangements, the UK will no longer be able to legally depend on those EU inspections, meaning that the UK “will need to establish, empower and resource its own regulatory bodies to replicate the EU’s functions”.

According to the report, it is difficult to predict what the specific impact of this will be, but it is possible that the follow-on consequences for stakeholders may include increased compliance costs, a greater administrative burden and increased risk of administrative errors.

In addition, it stresses that there are currently no standalone agreements between the UK and third party states regarding meat importation, with the long standing trade arrangements between the EU and various non-EU states for meat being bilateral.

The report illustrates the example of New Zealand’s lamb, as the UK “typically accounts for 40% of New Zealand’s lamb imports into the EU”, creating concern that EU27 farmers could be faced with an “excess of tariff-free New Zealand lamb supply post-Brexit”.

Moving on to the practical tips to the sector, the report highlights that it is “likely that the UK will need to resource or establish a Government agency to carry out new administrative functions relating to the certification of meat producers and imported products”.

It also notes that there “will be supply and distribution issues for meat producers, processors and importers (both EU and non-EU-based) as a result of Brexit”, urging meat businesses to start planning now to understand how these issues might impact existing arrangements.

It concludes that trade issues are inconclusive at this point and there remains substantial potential for upset in the existing market dynamics of the meat market, adding: “If you produce, import, process or trade in meat products in a significant way, you should keep your business informed about the current status of trade disputes and discussions which have been triggered by Brexit.”

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