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UK's meat export market at risk as government delays securing Third Country status

The United Kingdom must be formally listed as a Third Country by the EU in order to continue selling meat and other food products in that market, says BMPA.

29 September 2020, at 9:17am

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) explains that in order to continue selling meat and other food products into the EU after 31 December, the UK as a whole will have to be formally listed as a Third Country by the EU.

Once that is done, each individual food manufacturing plant will then need to be formally approved as well. It’s up to the EU whether or not they require a physical inspection of each and every plant.

If inspections are required, this could see British food manufacturers waiting in line for formal listing before they can export anything further to the EU. The longer they have to wait, the more orders will be lost.

Nick Allen, Chief Executive of the British Meat Processors Association explained: “While a request has been submitted by the UK, there is currently no firm indication as to when the EU will consider and vote on formal country approval, let alone when and if plant inspections will be done.

“It’s highly unlikely that the EU will refuse us Third Country status. The bigger question is when it will be granted and how much damage to our food businesses and supply chains will be done in the process.”

In order to give us approval as a Third Country the EU, as Michel Barnier explains “need to know in full what a country’s rules are, [including] for imports. The same objective process applies to all listed countries”. Recent speculation over whether or not Boris Johnson’s government will relax import rules and standards in order to do a deal with the United States may well have prompted the EU to re-assess the Third Country approval they gave us in August last year.

Third Country status is just one thing that could throw a spanner in the works and prevent us from exporting product to the EU. There are other things like new export certification requirements and the uncertainty over Health Marks that have not yet been addressed by the UK Government.

Mr Allen added: “We need all of this to happen urgently, otherwise British firms will start losing orders from this month onwards for product due for delivery in the new year.”