UK meat processors have warned of a “permanent” loss in trade in the wake of Brexit.
Trade body The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) suggested “systemic problems” with the UK export system in the wake of the country’s departure from the EU are more damaging than what some in political circles have suggested are short-term ‘teething problems’.
The BMPA, in its Brexit Impact Report, which draws on the experiences of meat exporters since the UK left the EU on 1 January, warned the UK meat industry is looking at a rise in annual “trading costs” of GBP90m to GBP120m (US$123.4m to $164.5m).
The report, published today (23 March), says some companies now expect a permanent 20% loss of export trade.
“Dismissing trade disruption at the borders as simply short-term ‘teething problems’ is no longer credible. As we near the end of the first quarter of trading outside the EU single market, British meat companies are painting a very different picture,” the BMPA said.
“They are reporting systemic weaknesses in the current export system, mountains of red tape and a potential permanent loss of trade of between 20% and 50%.”
Nick Allen, CEO of the BMPA, said: “British companies which are dealing with the new issues on the ground are best placed to offer constructive solutions but these solutions need support and investment from government to build a new system that is fit for purpose.”
The report suggests improvements could be made in a number of areas BMPA members say are slowing down and impeding trade.
These include inspection and certification, with a suggestion that more efficient and cost-effective systems could be introduced, and a call to move from an “antiquated paper-based system” to an integrated digital system with regards to documentation.
It also suggests the introduction of a common veterinary area – although the report admits this would mean “negotiating a more robust agreement with the EU”.
Allen added: “The export hurdles we face are now in plain sight and are not going away. We need government to urgently re-engage with both the industry and the EU to work out detailed and lasting solutions.”