Export Partnership Formed

Defra and the UK livestock industry have launched a new partnership to help develop opportunities in the global market.

Originally a three year trial, the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP) will liaise with the UK livestock and livestock product industries to establish export market priorities, provide a forum to discuss the use of Defra agents to negotiate export health certificates and help draft the agreements of export health certification.

It is hoped that UKECP will build on the success of the Export Certification User Group and further improve joint Defra/industry efforts to negotiate with non-EU markets.

Peter Hardwick, International Manager of the Agriculture, Horticulture Development Board Meat Services (AHDBms) said: "The UK Export Certification Partnership strengthens the already excellent co-operation between industry and government on market access work.

"It will facilitate greater flexibility in the allocation of resources to what is often a very time consuming and complex process. International markets are essential to the profitability of the UK meat and livestock sector and we are confident that this new initiative will open up even more avenues to develop further our international trade."

Farming Minister Jane Kennedy said co-operation between government and industry is "crucial" to get the most out of the global market.

"After disease outbreaks in the past, the partnership between government and industry has helped to speed the reopening of the international markets, and this new partnership will strengthen that response and widen the opportunities available to our exporters," she added.

The partnership, which includes levy bodies and other interested industry parties, is currently working to draw up a list of priority countries and accelerate the process of achieving export certification.

Garnier Jean-Pierre Garnier, head of export at AHDB Meat Services, said: "Defra finds it useful to work with us on this issue, because we can help prioritise markets according to commercial interests. In addition, we are actually in the market and can support the certification effort by meeting officials."

UKECP aims to co-ordinate the interests of English, Welsh and Scottish parties. Each levy body is discussing priority markets with its members and the partnership will then work together to rank countries according to criteria such as commercial interest and the possibility of achieving export certification.

Donald Biggar, chairman of QMS said: "While Europe is always likely to be our key market for exports, there are some major untapped markets around the world. The research shows that some of these countries are particularly interested in buying premium beef, lamb and pork, but there is also great potential to develop sales of offal to the likes of China.

"Together, we are drawing up a list of countries that we believe would be worth targeting in order to put resource into cutting through the red tape and allowing us to sell into these markets."

It is hoped that UKECP will assist Defra in its efforts to clear the large backlog of export certification that has built up as a result of BSE and FMD outbreaks in the UK.

"Every time there is a disease outbreak, we lose our export certificates and it is a long process to get them back," said Garnier. "Hopefully this partnership will help speed up the approval process for the certificates we have lost and start the ball rolling for new agreements in the future."