US trade brings risks and reward for UK meat sector

US trade brings risks and reward for UK meat sector

A new trade deal with the US will consist of risks and opportunities for the UK meat sector, according to a new report published by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

AHDB analysts say that American products, including beef, are unlikely to land on UK shelves.

A US/UK Free Trade Agreement and its impact on UK Agriculture, assesses a range of evidence to answer questions about the future trading relationship with the US, including current production and trade patterns, comparative costs and methods of production, previous trade agreements, agricultural policy and insight from businesses already exporting to the US.

The report highlighted that while standards may be used as a barrier to trade, the media speculation about the UK being flooded with cheap US food produced to a lower standard is possibly misplaced.

“The US is a global agricultural powerhouse and a trade deal will improve access to the UK market, so we need to be conscious of what’s potentially coming.”

It adds that the US has the capability to set up supply chains to meet a variety of standards and already does so for a number of markets across the globe and domestically, allowing it to meet various requirements to certain markets, if it is economical.

Tom Forshaw, AHDB senior policy analyst and report author said: “The US is a global agricultural powerhouse and a trade deal will improve access to the UK market, so we need to be conscious of what’s potentially coming. It is also a market of 330 million relatively affluent consumers and that gives us an opportunity.

“It is unlikely that in the short term a deal with the US is going to mean a flood of US product hitting our shelves. This is both because of the nature of trade deals, which take time to implement over 10-15 years but also because of the economics of trading. In many sectors, the US already has seasoned markets, with products that are traded at a higher price than we currently import here.

“But UK farmers can’t afford to be complacent and need to ensure they are well placed to be competitive in future.”

Forshaw added that the UK is entering a new era of trade policy and the latest Horizon report sets the scene for deals we are currently negotiating with other major agri-food exporters, such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

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