No-Deal Brexit: It could be easier to export to China than the EU

A ‘No-Deal’ Brexit could make trading pork products with the EU more difficult than shipping to further flung locations such as China, industry leaders have warned.

National Pig Association (NPA) senior policy advisor Ed Barker warned it would be easier to export pigs to China than the EU, initially at least, in the event of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal.

The association said the publication of No-Deal technical notes only underlined the importance of securing an agreement with the EU.

“Although we have only seen a handful of all the technical notices that will be published, it will come as little surprise to us that a ‘no deal’ scenario would bear considerable impacts to the UK pig sector,” Barker told PigWorld, the NPA’s magazine.

The most striking challenge lies in the difficulties of the UK exporting products to the EU as it would be treated as a third country in such a scenario.

The association explained that in 2017, the UK exported 157,000t of pork to the EU. Worth £208 million, it represents the biggest market for British pork.

Costs and barriers

“Supply chains and contracts would have to be ‘reconsidered’ in light of this,” Barker added.

“In essence, it is not seamless at all and the costs and barriers of moving the product would be prohibitive. This would offer difficulties in the export of cull sows with the irony that exporting pig products to China will probably be easier on day one [outside the EU].

With such an integrated supply chain in pork, it is difficult to see what exporters can do to adequately prepare for third country status without passing on costs to producers, or seeing this export trade as fundamentally unviable.

“With further uncertainties about the future status of permanent migrant labour, the notices only underline the NPA’s call for a need for all parties to find a suitable EU-UK deal that allows a continuity in frictionless trade.”