A report produced by a cross-party group of MPs highlights “urgent concerns” for exporters of highly time-sensitive fresh and live seafood and meat shipments to the EU.
The report, produced by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee, concludes that new barriers on seafood and meat exports have been created since the end of the Brexit transition period and the introduction of the new Trade and Co-operation Agreement.
The Committee has found that, despite overcoming initial ‘teething problems’, the new barriers that small and medium sized seafood and meat export businesses face could render them unviable, and factories and jobs may relocate to the EU.
Committee Chair, Neil Parish, is urging the Government to level the playing field for UK producers and to be pragmatic in its approach to reduce the red tape and problems they face.
One of the key suggestions from the report is to seek agreement with the EU on digitising the certification of paperwork such as Export Health Certificates as a matter of priority.
Currently, the multiple checks are causing serious delays and increasing the cost of exporting, with most meat producers incurring extra costs of up to £1,000 just to send a lorry through the port.
Meanwhile, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks on imports from the European Union have not yet been implemented.
The report also urges the Government to provide the same help to small meat and seafood businesses with the costs of extra red-tape for exports to the EU as they can receive for moving goods to Northern Ireland, with one industry commentator pointing out that smaller exporters are facing a “monster of a system”, with 29 different processes to follow.