Sheep Meat: Imports

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what contingencies he has put in place in the event that the UK becomes subject to the complaints procedures at the WTO with regard to quotas of lamb imports from (a) Australia and (b) New Zealand.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In preparation for the UK’s departure from the EU, the Government has been working to establish our autonomous membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Amongst other things, this has included laying the UK’s Goods Schedule at the WTO for certification, which was done on 24 July 2018. The UK’s Schedule replicates the EU28’s bound tariffs and sets out UK specific tariff rate quota (TRQ) volumes determined by a joint EU-UK agreed apportionment methodology. The underlying principle of the approach to establishing TRQs is to maintain current levels of market access into the UK for all WTO members.

Certifying the UK’s Goods Schedule is a process, and we are aware that some WTO members have expressed concern about potential impacts on existing access to trade which result from the apportionment methodology. In response, on 21 December 2018 the UK Government formally opened an Article XXVIII process under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which specifically addresses TRQs. This was done with a view to engaging directly with WTO members about their concerns, and working towards formal certification of the UK’s Goods Schedule. This process is currently underway.

Defra officials have been engaging directly with officials from Australia and New Zealand since 2016. We are fully aware of their views and have established a dialogue, including negotiations through Article XXVIII, to resolve the issues that they raise.

In light of this, we do not expect the UK to be subject to formal complaint procedures in relation to TRQs. However, in the unlikely event that the UK were to be challenged on this once we leave the EU, we are confident that the steps we have taken maintain the existing balance of rights and obligations and are fully consistent with WTO practice.

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