Customs and Trade News - July 2022

We discuss the GCC FTA, the cold water prawn tariff running out, criticism against the Australian FTA and the new push to remove trade barriers.

Gulf Cooperation Council

In June 2022 negotiations were launched between the UK and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The GCC is made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A free trade agreement (FTA) will benefit the UK food and drink sector as the Gulf is highly dependent on imported food. Consumers in the Gulf also have significant purchasing power and there is a demand for UK products.

Last year the UK government ran a consultation requesting input from businesses trading with the GCC. Amongst the feedback received were the importance of having simple and flexible rules of origin which would be of particular benefit to seafood processors. Another mentioned was the need for transparency and simplification with regards to customs requirements, regulatory requirements and SPS measures. Respondents noted that this was a particular difficulty if things changed without warning.

Greenland

At the beginning of 2022, there was a press release stating that negotiations for a free trade agreement with Greenland had begun. Greenland is a major exporter of seafood to the UK with coldwater shrimp worth an estimated £49 million. .

It has been raised in the British Frozen Foods Federation and Seafish Importers Forum, that the duty-free quota for cold water prawns is going to be exhausted early before the FTA is concluded. When the quota is exhausted, the UK tariff on imports of cold water prawns will be 20%. A letter has been sent to ministers from the CEO of British Frozen Foods Federation requesting an increase in the zero-tariff quota.

Australia

The Australia/UK free trade agreement has received some criticism from the International Trade Committee, where protected geographical indications (PGI) are concerned. A protected geographical indication is a designation used on products that have qualities attributable to a specific origin. A well-known example is Champagne, which must be produced from the Champagne wine region of France. Some British seafood examples of PGI’s are Scottish Farmed Salmon, Arbroath Smokies, London Cure Smoked Salmon, Cornish Sardines, Fal Oysters and Traditional Grimsby Smoked Fish. Protected status prevents the product name from misuse, imitation, or unfair competition. The criticism speculates that Australia could impersonate these products however DIT has responded to say, Australia does not have a geographical indications scheme for food and should they introduce such a scheme we have agreed to review our agreement. Let us know if you have any thoughts on this. 

Barriers to export

In the recent speech to the British Chambers of Commerce, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan announced plans of a new initiative to remove bureaucratic trade barriers, to open up international export markets for UK businesses. There has been a list of around 100 priority trade barriers drawn up to be resolved.  

With a range of industries and countries being noted in the speech, one that was of particular interest to stakeholders is seafood exports to Mongolia. We understand that Salmon Scotland and DFDS recently hosted Mongolian officials who were interested to see our health certificate processes. The UK currently has minimal exports of seafood to Mongolia.

Further information

We welcome comments and feedback from the seafood industry, so your issues are understood and fed into the FTA negotiations.

Should you wish to email or arrange a meeting, please contact christina.fallah@seafish.co.uk in the Regulation Team.