Red meat sector ready for Brexit but worried about tariffs

Lamb and beef exporters in Wales are as prepared as they can be for new paperwork and administration at the end of the Brexit transition period, but are very concerned about the impact of tariffs in the event of no deal, according to industry body Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC).

Welsh red meat exports are worth £200 million a year, with over 90% of the trade being with the EU.

HCC, alongside other agencies, has engaged consistently with processors and exporters both large and small to help them be as ready as possible for changes which will come into force at the end of the year.

Over the past month, HCC has surveyed current exporters, and found that companies were aware of new regulations.

However, the research also discovered that potential WTO tariffs in the event of no-deal Brexit – which on beef and lamb range from 40-80% depending on the type of meat cut – is a major headache for businesses as they plan for 2021.

HCC chief executive Gwyn Howells said:

We’ve worked with all our exporters in Wales to make sure we’re getting ready for changing rules on labelling, health certificates and other requirements, so we’re pleased that measures are in place to avoid any administrative delays insofar as we can.

“It’s clear, though, that the uncertainty regarding whether or not huge tariffs will be applied to Welsh exports to Europe from January 1, 2021, is starting to cause real problems for exporters.

“They also have concerns over the availability of labour to ensure continued production.

“As we’ve made clear from the outset, a free trading agreement with the EU would be the best outcome for the Welsh lamb and beef sectors,” he concluded.