Dutch veal gains access to China
After 17 years of negotiations, the Chinese market is open to Dutch veal.

Ekro, the subsidiary of the VanDrie Group, is the first European veal slaughterhouse to receive approval to export veal products to China. This signifies a breakthrough in the 17-year negotiation process concerning the export of Dutch veal to China.

Initially, only boneless veal will be allowed to cross the border.

The Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and the Commerce Minister Zhong Shan visited the Netherlands this week. The Chinese government had authorised the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) to perform the final required inspection at one veal producing company.

First order

Ekro is shipping the first veal order to China this week. Henny Swinkels, director of corporate affairs at Ekro, says the Netherlands has a good reputation in the field of nutrition in China.

“With our quality system Safety Guard, we provide unique guarantees for the Dutch veal products that we deliver, such as quality, tracking and tracing and food safety. Chinese consumers find these elements very important. It is now up to us to familiarise the market with the product,” Swinkels said.

He commended the Dutch embassy and its agricultural attaches in China, the NVWA and the chief veterinary officer on achieving the breakthrough.

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Calf exports 44% ahead of last year

ICOS calls for suspension of article 50 negotiation period
The industry is gravely concerned at the disarray which now exists following the defeat of the recent EU-UK proposition put before the House of Commons.

A suspension of the article 50 negotiation period is the only viable solution to avoid the disastrous consequences of a no-deal Brexit, ICOS has said. This position was put forward at a meeting between members of the EU Commission’s Brexit Negotiation Team and the Brexit Task Force within Copa Cogeca.

Responding to this week’s events in the UK, ICOS said that the industry is gravely concerned at the disarray which now exists following from the overwhelming defeat of the recent EU-UK proposition put before the House of Commons by Prime Minister Theresa May.

ICOS said it will be further highlighting the concerns raised in meetings with EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier and his team over the coming weeks.

“The House of Commons’ vote is a clear signal that the UK Government must rethink their red lines and alter their approach to Brexit,” a statement from ICOS reads. “Our members urge all involved to use this opportunity to move in a new direction, including the UK seeking full and permanent membership of the EU Single Market and Customs Union, which is supported by a significant proportion of the UK Parliament, citizens and businesses.”

ICOS is also calling for a dedicated Brexit support fund to be established within the EU’s structural and Investment funds, with the aim of helping European farmers and agri-food businesses through this period of adjustment and market instability while ensuring food security for consumers.

The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) represents over 130 co-operatives in Ireland whose associated businesses have a combined turnover in the region of €14 billion.

EU Contingency plans

The EU’s contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit were presented to the Copa Cogeca Brexit Task Force on Wednesday by John Watson from the European Commission Secretariat General.

However ICOS says the plans are ‘bare bones’ arrangements that do not offer the level of transition envisioned with the Withdrawal Agreement.

“There are no special waivers to allow for roll-on/roll-off exporting through UK ports to continue and nothing is said about the Northern Ireland border and whether the EU would intend regulatory checks to be applied on goods entering Ireland,” ICOS president Michael Spellman said. “It won’t be possible to sufficiently mitigate the resulting damage of a no deal Brexit through public and private sector contingency planning, rather a long-term and stable agreement must be reached.”

The EU’s contingency measures include:

  • Proposed legislation on transport, to ensure basic air and road connectivity by allowing for the temporary (12 months) provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU and allowing UK road haulage operators to temporarily (nine months) carry goods into the EU, provided the UK confers equivalent rights to EU road haulage operators.
  • Proposed legislation on phytosanitary standards (SPS) and customs, regarding the listing of the UK as a third country so that it can continue to import and export agri-food products to the EU (with the legislation to be finalised in February) and extending the relevant time limits for customs declarations on goods entering or leaving the Union’s customs territory to the UK.
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    Farmers to take Brexit hit before Government acts

    New calf ferry to sail from mid-March
    Boat could allow higher calf exports in peak weeks of spring 2019, exporters told by Department.

    The new ferry WB Yates is due to commence sailings from Dublin to France from a target date of 20 March and could allow significantly higher calf exports to EU markets, exporters were told at this week’s annual briefing by Bord Bia.

    But that depends on two developments falling into place, a Department representative said.

    First, the boat had to be inspected and approved by marine and veterinary officials from the Department for its suitability to carry livestock safely.

    The second, more complex issue, is whether it will sail on the same days as the current Rosslare sailings by Stena or on alternate days.

    Staggered demand

    Sailing on alternate days would stagger demand for limited lairage space at Cherbourg, where calves must rest for 12 hours.

    Efficient use of this lairage will be critical between mid-February and mid-March when peak numbers of calves are sold.

    The owners of the new boat, Irish Ferries, have been in talks with the Department of Agriculture and expressed a willingness to facilitate calf exports to EU markets.

    Exporters have asked the Department to only give the boat approval to carry calf trucks if the company operates its schedule to facilitate maximum exports.

    EU moves no-deal Brexit legislation
    The European Commission has begun legal changes to ensure transport links are not cut off with the UK in the case of a hard Brexit, but other trade restrictions would apply overnight.

    The European Commission introduced legislation to prepare a number of sectors for a potential no-deal Brexit, urging other European institutions to adopt the changes in time for 29 March.

    These include a measure to allow UK hauliers to transport goods into the EU, "provided the UK confers equivalent rights to EU road haulage operators".

    The Commission warned, however, that every EU member states should "take all the necessary steps to be in a position to apply the Union Customs Code and the relevant rules regarding indirect taxation in relation to the United Kingdom". For Ireland, this means imposing customs checks and tariffs on shipments moving across the border with Northern Ireland and the Irish sea.

    Checks and tariffs

    In September, the UK promised to recognise a range of EU regulations for a period in case of a hard Brexit to avoid shutting the door on trade flows.

    "These measures will not – and cannot – mitigate the overall impact of a no-deal scenario, nor do they in any way compensate for the lack of stakeholder preparedness or replicate the full benefits of EU membership or the terms of any transition period, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement," the European Commission cautioned.

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