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Pigmeat: Exports

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 45923, tabled on 9 September 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he has taken with Cabinet colleagues to expedite a resumption of pork exports from UK pig processing plants, whose export licenses to China were voluntarily surrendered due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Answered on

17 September 2021

Defra is working closely with the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) at every level to utilise opportunities to press the General Administration of Customs China (GACC) for the re-listing of the three affected UK pork processing plants. As part of this Defra has taken a number of steps, including those summarised below.

Defra, in collaboration with DIT and FCDO, continues to monitor the situation and to do all it can to resolve this issue. However, re-listing these establishments is ultimately in the gift of the GACC.

  • The Defra Secretary of State wrote to GACC Minister Ni in March 2021 and again in May 2021 to raise this issue and request a meeting. GACC have not responded.
  • Defra has fulfilled all of China’s technical requests to enable the re-listing of these UK establishments. This includes the submission to GACC of extensive COVID-19 dossiers, countersigned by the relevant Food Safety Competent Authorities and Public Health Authorities, as well as completing virtual video inspections chaired and facilitated by Defra with GACC Officials, where requested.
  • A letter from the UK Chief Veterinary Officer was sent to GACC to highlight the latest UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s guidance that was published in August 2021 on the risks COVID-19 transmission via food or food packaging.
  • Beyond direct engagement with GACC, Defra continues to engage with FCDO and DIT colleagues at different levels on a regular basis to ensure a consistent, joined up approach to UK Government pressing GACC for the re-listing of UK pork establishments.
  • Additionally, the UK raised concerns regarding these trade restrictive measures at the World Trade Organisation Sanitary Phytosanitary (WTO SPS) Committee in November 2020, March 2021, July 2021 and in bilateral discussions with China.