European poultry processors have criticised the European Commission’s trade liberalisation plans for third countries saying it is threatening the sector, which employs more than 300,000 people.
The Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade in EU countries (AVEC) said EU companies had to comply with very high standards on animal welfare, food safety and environmental protection, which led to extra costs being incurred compared to third countries.
But AVEC said the EU Commission was engaged in free trade negotiations with several parties – negotiations which were intended to further liberalise trade by reducing or abolishing levies/tariffs.
Writing in its annual report released this week, AVEC President Paul Lopez and Secretary General Birthe Steenberg said the Commission’s position was of huge concern to the competitiveness of the EU poultry meat sector.
“Due to the higher standards leading to higher costs of production, we cannot compete on price with third countries. The EU poultry meat producers cannot accept any additional concessions in the free-trade agreement negotiations since it will have disastrous consequences on our sector employing more than 300,000 people,” they said.
They added that at least one third of the already existing imports from third countries was arriving directly in the UK, which highlighted the Brexit issue.
“AVEC is in clear agreement with its British member – the British Poultry Council – that the status quo situation should be maintained and that the existing trade flows should be maintained even after the UK leaves the EU.
AVEC is keen for its members to look to export to Asian countries, which is said represented the best opportunities for the European poultry sector, due to consumer preferences for red or dark poultry meat.
“Opening different markets in Asia for export of poultry meat from EU is of huge importance to AVEC. The Middle East as well as countries in Africa are areas where the EU poultry meat sectors historically has been exporting large quantities and it is important to consolidate/develop our exports there too.”