The British Poultry Council’s chief executive has warned that an ongoing lack of reciprocity in UK-EU trade risks “normalising unfair trade with our largest and most important trading partner”.
Richard Griffiths of the British Poultry Council said British poultry meat exporters had just 7 days to prepare for the conditions of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement signed shortly before Christmas 2020. Yet, he said these businesses were criticised by the government for a “lack of preparedness” from 1 January 2021. On the other hand, EU exporters have faced near frictionless trade going into the UK for well over a year and could now potentially expect the same luxury until October 2022.
According to the UK’s Financial Times, this is because the UK government plans to delay controls rather than confront the EU and is, as a result, helping UK competition.
“Delaying controls both imposes more burdens on UK exporters and hands the EU a clear commercial advantage. Citing “supply chain stress” as the reason for delaying controls is redundant: a good portion of this supply chain stress is underpinned by the costly, burdensome bureaucracy faced when trading with the EU. Continually putting UK producers at a competitive disadvantage via an ongoing lack of reciprocity means there is real risk of normalising unfair trade with our largest and most important trading partner,” said Griffiths.
He added that a level playing field is crucial for fair and competitive trade. “Government must engage with the realities of third country trade and recognise this: either remove checks for products entering the EU from the UK or apply full controls from 1 July to ensure a fair competitive marketplace.”
Griffiths said that if checks were to occur, they should be fair and balanced, stressing that to ease the burden of trade on British businesses, the UK government and EU Commission should come to a mutual understanding that secures reciprocated controls – particularly in the absence of any SPS Agreement under the Trade and Co-Operation Agreement (TCA).
“Kicking this down the road is only adding more burden to British businesses and putting them at a commercial disadvantage. We don’t want to end up in a position where the government finds it has simply put off the disruption it maintains that it wants to avoid,” he concluded.