THE British Poultry Council (BPC) has renewed calls for a Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement with Europe that would unlock the export of more categories of poultry products into the bloc. 

From 30 April, new checks on pre-notification and health certificates came into force for exporters of poultrymeat from Europe to Great Britain after their introduction at the end of January.

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Paperwork will now be verified by border authorities before being admitted into GB, and a proportion of consignments will be physically checked. 

For poultrymeat, this has been set at 1% (it is 15% for eggs). 

Biosecurity Minister Lord Douglas-Miller said: “Britain’s new border checks will help to guarantee the nation’s protection against the very real threat of plant and animal disease.”

Reciprocity

However, the BPC said the new checks did not represent trade reciprocity between GB and the EU, with some categories of British poultry products, such as poultry mince, still deemed ‘high risk’ by the bloc. 

It highlighted a 56% drop in British poultry meat exports since Brexit as a statistic that “underscores the erosion of British poultry supply chains”.

The cost of export health certificates, required for British processors since 1 January 2021, was put at £55m a yearit added – a cost EU exporters have not had to bear until now.

‘Burden’ of additional checks

BPC chief executive Richard Griffiths said: “No one wants the burdens wrapped up in additional checks. 

“Exporting sectors like our own have suffered the pains of so-called ‘teething problems’ since Day One, but the ongoing impact of unreciprocated controls is just as big a problem. 

“We have to level the burden to level the playing field. 

‘Level playing field’

“That’s what an equal approach to import checks with the EU guarantees: it recognises our standards, backs our producers, and ensures safe, affordable, nutritious food for all.

“If quality food for all is the priority, then we have to level the playing field across industries, sectors, and entire nations. 

“Only then can we go on to address the inefficiencies in UK-EU trade while safeguarding standards across the board – facilitated by an SPS Agreement,” added Mr Griffiths.

“This government has not made any real effort to pursue an SPS agreement, and continued imbalance between import and export controls is a burden we have yet to see government take seriously. 

“By not fixing problems with a mutually beneficial SPS agreement between the UK and EU, government is exposing the UK’s food frameworks to more instability.”