Meat industry reacts to Brexit customs union proposals
The meat and food industry has welcomed the Government’s proposals for a new and time-limited customs union between the UK and EU based on a shared external tariff without custom processes and duties.
However, industry experts have cautioned that “the real challenge” will follow during the negotiating process.
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) chief executive, Nick Allen, has welcomed “any developments that mean that trade will continue with Europe as freely as possible”, noting that the BMPA has “always called for a sensible transition period that means established trading patters can continue”.
He added: “The EU is the meat industry’s most important market and trading partner and we would like to think that will continue for the foreseeable future.
“On the face of it if the Government can deliver all that they ask for in the paper it will be good for the industry and good for the consumer but obviously there is some hard negotiating to be done yet.”
The Provision Trade Federation’s (PTF) director general, Andrew Kuyk, reiterated that it is “vital that we emerge from the Brexit process with the freest and fairest terms of trade with the widest range of markets”, but cautioned that “the sooner there is clear progress, the better”.
He added: “The Government’s position outlined today certainly meets those aspirations in respect of ambition. Meanwhile the UK’s competitors are not going to stand still – and our member businesses need to be able to plan their commercial strategies to keep pace.”
In addition, the Food and Drink Federation’s director general, Ian Wright CBE, welcomed the Government’s “drive for greater clarity on the Brexit process”, noting that if the proposals for an interim customs regime can be agreed, they go “some way in protecting business from a ‘cliff edge’”.
He added: “FDF’s priority is to ensure that our access to EU markets is not undermined during the transition period. Ensuring a single point of change would help to minimise unnecessary disruption for businesses that have established trading relationships with the EU.
“The real challenge will then follow in designing and negotiating a model that maintains these benefits beyond the transition period, delivering the same ease of trading that UK food and drink currently enjoys with the EU27, with zero tariffs and no new regulatory or other non-tariff barriers.”