UK to continue exporting agricultural products to EU8 Jan 2021
Despite the UK officially leaving the European Union, the island nation will still be able to continue exporting meat fish and dairy to the continent. Late last month, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) granted the UK Third Country status which permits the export of animal products. Equines are also eligible for movement between the UK and the EU with this designation.
After meeting the required animal health and biosecurity standards necessary to receive Third Country status, the UK can continue moving food to Northern Ireland as well as the rest of continental Europe. A week before the country’s transition period ending on Dec. 31, the government agreed on what Prime Minister Boris Johnson called a “Canada style” agreement that allows the UK to avoid tariffs and quotas. Fishing rights for the two separate economic zones remain under negotiation.
However, Politico reported that potatoes were excluded from the list of products that are permissible for export since Brussels determined that the standards maintained in the UK for the product were not “dynamically aligned” with the standards in the EU. This exclusion affects farmers that reside primarily in Scotland and the north of England but accounts for £90 million worth of seed potatoes annually, one-fifth of which is exported to the European Union.
While this step in the Brexit negotiations more closely paralleled the relationship between the two countries, farmers in England accused the new status as lacking in “crucial information.” Food Navigator reported that industry representatives criticized the decision as lacking in details, including whether additional guarantees on Export Health Certificates for animals of UK origin will be required. The Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association also said that additional clarity was needed around bureaucracy and dispute resolution.
Although there will be few financial ramifications according to the agreement struck between the two economic zones, members of the UK will need to provide the same level of paperwork and labeling when exporting to the Republic of Ireland as they would to the EU. However, as the EU is the largest trading partner for the UK, a tariff-free agreement is a crucial decision for the industry that will be greatly affected by the finalization of the Brexit transition.
Trade of agri-food products between the EU and the UK is immense. According to the European Commission, the value of exports between the two entities came to €41 billion.
The transition to a UK outside of Europe has been a long, arduous journey, and Mella Frewen, the director general of FoodDrinkEurope told Food Manufacturer that at this stage, “failure to more quickly will lead to more, broader chaos and supply chain disruption that will not only put thousands of jobs at risk but also impact the safe supply of affordable agri-food products to customers.”
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