UK Meat and Fish Exports to the EU Have Fallen By Half Since Brexit

tendata blogTrade Trends News

ten data blog28-06-2023

A new analysis of trade data has highlighted a sharp fall in the UK's meat and fish exports to the European Union (EU) since Brexit. The sharp drop in food trade has sparked concerns about the economic impact of Britain's exit from the EU. Labour has called for a new veterinary agreement with Brussels to ease the onerous red tape faced by British businesses trading with EU member states. Labour's shadow environment secretary said these trade disruptions have led to job losses, higher prices and threats to food security. Business leaders and food industry chiefs are jointly calling for a veterinary agreement between the U.K. and the EU to ease trade barriers and eliminate the need for additional inspections of goods.

export,meat export,fish export,uk export

Meat exports plummet, fish and seafood exports plummet

According to Labour's analysis of government trade data, meat exports (by weight) to EU countries fell by 42 percent from December 2020 to March 2023. The alarming figures also show that the net mass of fish, crustaceans and molluscs exported to Europe fell by 45% over the same period.

The weight of meat exports to EU countries fell to 34.5 million kg from just over 56 million kg in December 2020 (the month before inspections were implemented). During the same period, exports of fish, crustaceans and molluscs fell from just over 27 million kg to 14.7 million kg.

Government response and criticism

A government source defended the trade data, arguing that comparing December 2020 export data with March 2023 does not provide a full picture of trade flows due to seasonal patterns.

A government spokesperson said, "These figures are misleading as export figures are always very high in December compared to other months due to Christmas demand, but growing the economy and supporting businesses to export more world-class meat and seafood products is a top priority for the government."

Food industry chiefs joined Labour in calling for the UK to sign a veterinary agreement with the EU to ease trade barriers as this would remove the need for additional sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks on goods.

Labour calls for veterinary agreement

The significant drop in exports has been attributed to the onerous inspections and regulations imposed after the UK's departure from the EU. The implementation of trade barriers and the introduction of new inspections have hindered the smooth flow of seafood exports and created challenges for the fishing industry.

Kyle Starmer's Labour Party has called for a new veterinary agreement with Brussels to ease the "red tape" faced by British businesses trading with the UK's nearest neighbor, reduce trade barriers and lower costs. The party has highlighted the negative impact on jobs, prices and food security and accused the Conservative government of ignoring the issue.

Labor ministers have written to Environment Secretary Therese Coffey urging the government to adopt "practical solutions" to reduce the burden of costly inspections, which also contribute to severe congestion in Dover.

Costly inspections and future challenges

Business leaders have warned that British food retailers will face further challenges as new inspections of EU imports are due to be implemented in October, including fees of up to £43 per shipment. These additional costs, combined with customs brokerage fees and sanitary and phytosanitary inspections, have raised concerns in the food industry.

While ruling out rejoining the single market or customs union, Labour Foreign Secretary David Lammy has hinted that the party's policy may be to move forward gradually to build closer ties with Brussels.

According to the latest Deltapoll survey, more than 50 percent of people think it would be a mistake for Britain to leave the EU. The poll of Britain in a "changing Europe" found that only 18 percent of Leave voters thought Brexit was a success.

On Friday, Downing Street rejected former Bank of England governor Mark Carney's view that Brexit has contributed to Britain's inflation crisis.

Rishi Sunak's official spokesman said, "Brexit has created a lot of opportunities for Britain and indeed for businesses, which is good for the public," adding that inflation in other European countries is similar.

A spokesperson said, "We are currently consulting with the industry and businesses to ensure we take the fairest approach for them, while also facilitating the entry of goods into the country and protecting our biosecurity."

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