The UK meat sector will start losing EU customers from September unless Government clarifies key technical issues on trade arrangements, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has warned.
It has urged Government to clarify within the next few weeks what export health certification (EHC) and tariff arrangements will be in place after the Brexit transition period, since most EU orders are planned three to four
months in advance to allow for pricing, barcoding and any promotions on packaging.
Worried the ‘lack of Government information’ on trade arrangement formalities could lead to a serious disruption of trade, BMPA chief executive officer Nick Allen said: “If this process is delayed until the autumn there will be huge uncertainty about our status from January 1, 2021, and UK exporters will not be able to
agree forward contracts.
"Until now, companies have only needed an invoice to ship goods to the EU," he added.
“But after the transition period, there will be a new set of export health certificates and ID markings needed to be able to trade with Europe, none of which has been addressed yet.
“To compound the problem, our EU customers may well be saddled with tariffs of up to 40 per cent on UK meat exports.”
Mr Allen warned if these arrangements were not in place soon ‘EU customers will be confronted with multiple risks which they will not be prepared to take’.
“Without knowing what the price will be, or even if they will be allowed to bring certain goods into the country, committing to any orders or supply contracts that extend after December 31 will make no sense whatsoever to EU buyers, or indeed, customers elsewhere in the world,” he said.
“The solution will be to turn their back on UK exporters and source product from our competitors who will be happy to take trade away from British meat processors.”
Andy McGowan, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers (SAMW) president, said: "SAMW is 100 per cent with BMPA on these matters and we very recently made these same points to our Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, MSP.
"The UK has now left the EU so it is imperative that the UK Government urgently acts to clarify these very practical arrangements, otherwise the meat industry, farmers included, will suffer further economic hardship.
"These are not things that require a trade deal to be finalised before progressing.”