Taking the mystery out of international trade regulations

Since leaving the EU, regulation changes are coming thick and fast. Find out what we do to identify and influence barriers to international trade.

At Seafish, we continually monitor proposed and confirmed regulatory changes overseas. This helps us to understand the potential impacts on our seafood industry’s ability to trade seafood internationally. We view it as a vital part of our role in championing UK seafood – and being the industry’s ‘eyes and ears’ when it comes to developments of significant consequence.

Aeroplane flying over shipping containers
Image by onlyyouqj on Freepik

Staying informed and ‘ePing’ alerts

Various sources inform our work in foreseeing legislative changes in international markets that are likely to affect our seafood sector. Our numerous Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) contacts and the EU and UK working groups that we serve on play a vital role in this.  

We also use the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) ‘ePing’ alerts, which give notice of upcoming barriers to international trade.  

WTO member countries are obligated to inform the WTO of any new regulations which could pose a barrier to trade.  

In the UK, businesses can report barriers to the Department for International Trade (DIT). Government then acts to update the WTO as appropriate and contribute to its in-depth insights into the constraints on free trade globally. The WTO’s specialist committee work then scrutinises these constraints. So, a UK exporter reporting its experience of a trade barrier with DIT is feeding into a much larger chain through which these issues are considered and addressed. 

Taking action to assess and reduce the stress on businesses

When we are alerted to upcoming trade barriers of relevance to seafood, we use our vast bank of regulatory knowledge to put the change into perspective and assess the impact on industry. Our close working relationships with DEFRA, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) help us to plan a coordinated response as required. We recently set up regular meetings between us, DEFRA and FSA which are an ideal forum to agree responses.

Our plan of action can vary depending on the challenges that are posed by the barrier in question. Sometimes, simply alerting the UK seafood sector to the change so that it’s on businesses’ radar may be enough.

On other occasions, the response might need us to much more practical and ‘hands on’. For example, an upcoming rule change introduced by India requires imports into the country to be accompanied by an Export Health Certificate (EHC). This prompted us to alert industry and speak with APHA to support its considerations on whether to produce a centralised EHC.

We’ve seen times when the UK’s lab testing capacity needed expanding, to collate data on a residue now limited by a major export partner. We have also been involved in discussions with overseas authorities to request proportionate enforcement of a new rule or encourage sensitivity to sector-specific circumstances.

Part of your team 

A UK seafood industry that’s truly thriving is only achievable if businesses in the sector can import and export with confidence. Understanding, and acting on, changing regulations that may be barriers to overseas trade is one of the things we do to maintain that confidence. 

However large or small an overseas regulation change affecting seafood trade in the UK might be, we’ll continue to be proactive. By ensuring that we’re ‘in the know’ on what’s happening, we’ll use our expertise, contacts and influence to help deliver the right response for the seafood industry.  

Collage of the five Regulation team members
Our Regulation team, top L-R, Ivan, Fiona, bottom L-R, Eunice, Jack and Christina are always ready to help

If you need support with trading internationally, make us part of your team.

You can stay in the know with our monthly Seafood Regulation updates. Follow the link below to sign up. 

Further information

Did you know we offer bespoke advice? Get in touch with our Regulation team if you need support with an international trade issue. Please email regulation@seafish.co.uk.

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