Thursday, November 26, 2020

Concern over potential two-day Brexit export delays

October 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Livestock

The National Pig Association has voiced concern after the government said exporters could face massive queues following the end of the Brexit transition period.

It follows a letter from Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove, who warned that a no-deal Brexit could see queues of up to 7,000 port bound trucks in Kent – with delays of up to two days affecting the trade in breeding pigs and pigmeat after 31 December.

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “This is a real concern for the UK pig sector – the two-way trade in pork products is critical and disruption could be catastrophic.

“We urge traders and hauliers to do all they can to ensure they have the right documentation, but it would be wrong to pin the blame on industry for this. These efforts have been hampered by a complete lack of information on exactly what is required by government – they are not blameless.”

Lack of vets

Numerous issues still needed be addressed, said Ms Davies – including a lack of suitable border control posts and available vets in Calais to facilitate live exports. There were also questions over export health certificates and labelling.

“We need answers, and we need them soon,” she warned.

The EU is expected to impose full goods controls on the UK, stopping all freight without the correct documentation at border control points, with new checks required regardless of whether the UK strikes a trade deal with the EU or not.

According to the Cabinet Office document, if businesses are not prepared this will cause problems at the busiest ‘shorts straits’ routes Dover to Calais and in the Eurotunnel, with both imports and exports disrupted to a similar extent.

The disruption is predicted to build in the first two weeks of January, and could last three months or longer, should France rigorously apply Schengen passport checks on hauliers at Dover and the Channel Tunnel, the document says.

Breeding pigs

The NPA has expressed particular concern about the ability of the UK pig sector to export live breeding pigs after the transition period ends. Numerous meetings have been held to discuss the issue – including with Defra.

Most UK breeding animals are exported from Dover to Calais as this is the shortest route. Already this year over 10,000 breeding pigs have now been exported through this route, a trade that the NPA  says is important for UK businesses – and vital for the UK pig herd.

“I remain incredibly concerned about the future of live breeding pig exports if we don’t have a deal in place,” said Ms Davies. “If this trade is unable to continue, breeding companies may well be forced to leave UK and relocate to more accessible countries.

“This would have a significant knock-on effect on the whole industry. Not only would we have to import more breeding stock, which could carry enhanced biosecurity threats, the imports would also cost more and herd productivity could be severely affected longer term.”

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