Free trade negotiations essential to Welsh red meat industry
Post-Brexit free trade negotiations are critical to the future of Wales’ red meat industry, with exports to the European Union currently accounting for more than 90% of overseas trade and as much as a third of the Welsh flock, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) chairman, Dai Davies, has said.
“Exports are absolutely essential to this industry’s future sustainability,” Davies commented “Profitability and, most importantly, prices depend on exports. In 2014, £225m worth of Welsh red meat exports went to our mature markets in the EU. That’s nine in every ten export sales.
“With exports accounting for around 35% of all Welsh Lamb production, it means that nearly a third of the Welsh flock is sold to the EU nations,” Davies continued. “HCC has overseen growth in exports from around £50 million in 2003 to a record peak of £250 million two years ago.
“New and emerging markets are hugely exciting, and have tremendous potential for the future, but many of them are a very long way behind the leading mature markets in the European Union.
“Clearly, we cannot afford to be excluded or restricted in our future export trade from these key markets. I am sure the whole of the red meat industry in Wales strongly supports the First Minister and our Cabinet Secretary in advocating a tariff-free Brexit within a fair trade agreement.
“It is not an easy or quick job to break into any new territory; there may be protocols, restrictions and diplomatic conventions, alongside the trade negotiations, that we have to deal with, no matter how world class our product is.”
Davies, who is standing down as HCC chairman in April, added, that alongside protecting the country’s Eurozone markets, all parts of the red meat supply chain must look forward and together develop the industry.
“We must utilise the well-established reputation of the Welsh Lamb brand as the premier global quality brand; it is iconic and emblematic – our “Champagne” brand – and I believe we can use its reputation not only to win over international customers but to drive other Welsh exports,” he said.
“Welsh Lamb’s status can raise our national profile and inspire and lead Wales’ trade and export initiatives. It can help to build a wider platform and broader reputation for the quality and excellence of Welsh workmanship and products.”