The UK pig industry could face delays in resuming exports to China unless the Government moves quickly to agree the conditions of post-Brexit export health certificates, AHDB strategy director Mick Sloyan has warned.
“It is not all about trade deals,” he told the recent NPA South Central spring regional meeting at Newbury.
“At the moment the export health certificate to China actually complies with all the health and welfare regulation under the EU.”
The Government has confirmed that on the day we leave the EU, it will trigger the Great Repeal Bill, which will copy all existing EU legislation into domestic UK law.
“It sounds simple with the Great Repeal Bill – we say we adhere to the same standards and it will just say UK instead. But it isn’t.
“But that conversation will take years. It took us from 2004 to 2011 to get pork exports into China. It was a very tortuous process, so we need to start the conversation now about how we maintain that trade with China that is so important to our industry.”
Chinese exports have been one of the biggest drivers behind the UK pig price increase over the past 12 months. The export market, which hit a 17-year high in 2016, with China the biggest destination.
“We have been doing really well in the export market,” Mr Sloyan told an NPA producer group meeting earlier this year, adding that it is currently worth an estimated £30/pig.
“What is really encouraging is that we are starting to see, not only volume growth but value growth as well. China was generally for parts of the pig we didn’t want to eat – relatively low value but high value added for us,” he said.
“That is still the bulk of the market going there but we are increasingly now seeing other products – what you might call prime meat – finding its way into those markets, adding more value for the UK pig sector.”