UK and EU in talks on 'New Zealand-style' animal product arrangements to minimise trade friction

Mon 22 Feb 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The UK and EU are in dialogue to see what can be done to minimise trade friction while staying within the confines of the new trading relationship.

The Grocer reports talks to “dramatically reduce” checks on products of animal origin that have led to hold-ups on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. 

DEFRA secretary George Eustice has said: “We want to work on a veterinary partnership agreement with the EU…so we can try to get some easements to make sure goods can flow more smoothly.”

New Zealand-style deal

The UK is thought to be seeking a New Zealand-style agreement with the EU, to recognise each other’s standards as equivalent while not demanding any further alignment. New Zealand’s arrangement with Brussels means that around 1% of its goods are subject to SPS checks upon arrival, versus around 30% for the UK.

The UK is focusing on other areas where friction remains following its trade deal with the EU, signed on Christmas Eve 2020.

Sky reports that it is seeking an “urgent resolution” over shellfish exports to the EU. 

Since 1 January, the EU has stopped British fishermen from selling oysters, scallops, clams, cockles and mussels, known as live bivalve molluscs (LBM), that are caught in so-called “Class B” waters.

Disharmony for musicians

Another area affected by the deal is live music, where musicians looking to play in the EU face obtaining costly visas. The BBC reported that culture secretary, Oliver Dowden has laid the blame at Brussels’ door and said the situation “could have been solved” before 1 January, by which time the UK had left the EU’s customs union.

A working party has been established to look at possible solutions, but the FT reported that the government has failed to open talks with EU countries to ease the plight of creative industries hit by post-transition bureaucracy.

Caroline Dinenage, the culture and digital minister, has said that the UK may enter into bilateral discussions with individual countries.

Groupage isn’t working

The Road Haulage Association’s director for Scotland and Northern Ireland told Loadstar that the current border operating models and post-Brexit rules are not fit for handling groupage freight movements.

Groupage is where a load is made up of different loads for different customers, grouped together on one lorry. With multiple loads on a lorry, each has its own paperwork and problems with one load delays the whole truck.

Martin Reid said: “Scotland is reliant on groupage; seafood has especially highlighted this, but it’s not alone because, as a quite a small nation, groupage is the model that makes sense for us and the [Border Operating] Model in place does not allow this to happen.”   

The BBC reported that the government announced new processes aimed at easing problems with mixed loads of food products moving from GB to NI.