Major agricultural exporters such as the US and Canada are looking to change UK food standards as part of the negotiation on splitting the EU’s Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) after Brexit, according to a new report.
British and European diplomats managed to hash out a deal to carve up TRQs, which allow certain amounts of agricultural produce to enter the EU from countries outside the bloc with low or no tariffs, based on historical import volumes.
But in September last year, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, the USA and Uruguay joined forces to complain about the agreement, claiming they would be left ‘worse off’ because a separate UK quota would mean exporters could not compensate for low British demand by selling to another EU country, as they can at present.
Some of the complainants have also raised concerns about the way the TRQ split has been calculated because it has left them with a tiny share of UK trade.
Argentina, for example, would have a UK beef quota of 111 tonnes under the British-EU proposal, while the USA would have just 19 tonnes.
Now a new paper, written by UK Trade Policy Project director David Henig, has suggested several countries will look to re-open discussions on controversial European sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, such as bans on chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-treated beef and ractopamine-fed pork, as a way of compensating for their loss of access to UK and EU markets.
The report said: “It will probably be more difficult to satisfy these interests than domestic ones in UK TRQ negotiations.
“Major agricultural exporters already have a number of issues with the EU around TRQs and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regulations and this split is a chance to make progress on these with the EU and set a new framework with the UK.”
Given the complaints at the WTO, the EU has abandoned its original plan to seek a ‘technical rectification’, which requires no negotiation, for the TRQ splits.
On April 25 2018, it proposed a full renegotiation of its schedules, but the UK Government has so far insisted it need not do the same, with Trade Secretary Liam Fox calling on potential future trade partners to seek bilateral deals with the UK instead of ‘tying up’ British capacity at the WTO on TRQ splitting.
The Department for International Trade said it has always acknowledged the UK’s domestic industries and trading partners should not be made any worse off by the TRQ splits and officials were continuing to speak to WTO members to secure a ‘fair’ outcome.
David Henig is a contributor to Farmers Guardian’s Brexit hub. You can read his piece in full HERE.