An additional area of impact of Brexit which has to date been neglected when considering the consequences for ACP countries arising from the trade displacement. This would arise from two inter-related development: firstly the possible introduction of MFN tariffs on mutual EU27/UK trade in agro-food products; secondly the impact of new UK trade deals on the market position of EU27 suppliers on the UK market. Both of these developments could see export drives targeting ACP markets in the most seriously affected products, from sugar and dairy products to beef and poultry meat. Read more “Brexit and Trade Displacement: Areas of Concern for ACP Countries”
The PwC report paints a pessimistic picture of the future prospects for the development of Nigerian milk production, given the serious constraints on the development of commercial milk production. There is a need to recognise that if multinational dairy companies are to effectively expand local milk sourcing this will need to be part of a sector wide approach involving all dairy industry players. If not all players are on board the differential use of milk powders in the production of dairy products will create competitive pressures which individual corporate efforts to expand local milk sourcing. This may well require the targeted use of trade policy tools to ensure discipline in support of any sector wide approach. However this could fall foul of EPA provisions prohibiting the use of such tools, should Nigeria sign on to the west Africa-EU EPA. Read more “Report Paints Grim Picture for Prospects for Integrated Dairy Sector Development in Nigeria”
EC proposals for the customs cooperation arrangements in the immediate pre and post-Brexit period for goods in transit or storage, raise fundamental questions amount how the on-ward shipment of third country products between the EU27 and the UK will be handled post Brexit. This potentially raises serious customs administration issues for ACP exports to the UK which currently transit a EU27 member state or which serve EU27 markets through the UK. These issues will need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Read more “EC Proposals on Customs Cooperation during the Transition Period Raise Longer Term Concerns”
Campaigns to reduce the sugar content of food and drink products are gaining traction with consumers, while coordinated efforts are underway to promote greater use of alternative sweeteners within the food and drink industry. The success of efforts to reduce ‘hidden sugars’ however will be strongly influenced by the UK’s future sugar sector trade policy. UK sugar tariff reductions post-Brexit could slow down current efforts to reduce sugar usage in food and drink products, undermining public health policy objectives.
The trend towards a reduction in the sugar content of processed food products is gaining ground amongst EU consumers. According to analysis from Mintel ‘consumers in European markets are cutting their consumption of sugar – in Poland and Spain 63% are actively reducing consumption or avoiding the ingredient altogether. Some 60% of Italians are doing the same, as well as 55% of French consumers and 54% of Germans’ (1).
Research commissioned by the labelling organisation Sugarwise found 73% of shoppers said they ‘might or would definitely switch from their usual brand to one carrying the Sugarwise logo’. Sugarwise certifies ‘food with less than 5g of free sugars per 100grams and drinks with less than 2.5g per 100 ml’. Sugarwise is expanding its activities to mainland Europe after initially launching in the UK (1).
The move towards reduced sugar usage in food and drink products will be facilitated by the initiative launched by the UK Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to bring together data and analysis on the range of sugar alternatives and their practical use in different food and drink product manufacturing activities.
Ingredient manufacturers and researchers are being invited to provide details of products which would assist with industry reformulation efforts, aimed at reducing ‘hidden sugars’ in food and drink products without compromising the quality, taste, safety or shelf life of the product. The initiative is explicitly aimed at taking food and drink industry reformulation efforts to the ‘next level’, in response to Public Health England’s guidelines and the UK government’s Childhood Obesity Plan, which targets a 20% reduction in sugar consumption by 2020 (2).
Meanwhile Sugarwise has called on the UK government post-Brexit to apply differential import tariffs, based on the sugar content of products imported into the UK. It has called for low or no-sugar brands to enter the UK market free of tariffs. This is seen as necessary to address the current reality that ‘healthier products …tend to be more expensive’ (1).
|Comment and Analysis
While the practicality of the proposals advanced by Sugarwise for the application of differential tariffs on food and drink imports based on their sugar content may be questioned, it does raise the broader question of the consistency of any UK government moves to liberalise access to the UK sugar market post-Brexit with government health policies aimed at reducing per capita sugar consumption both by imposing taxes based on the sugar content of products and through voluntary guidelines on sugar reduction in manufactured food products (see companion article ‘Multiple challenges pending for ACP sugar exporters’, 1 May 2017).
This issue of how the UK government plans to reconcile its public health objectives related to reducing ‘hidden sugars’ in food and drink, with pressures to liberalise import tariffs on agricultural products such as sugar, will be critical to the future pace of the erosion of the value of any preferential access which ACP countries may be able to reconsolidate on the UK for their sugar exports in the post-Brexit period.
Currently scheduled EU reforms are projected to reduce sugar prices on the EU market. However within 18 months, if current sugar sector tariffs are retained and the UK’s exit from the EU is mishandled such that MFN tariffs are introduced on UK/EU27 mutual trade, then UK sugar prices could recover strongly. At present EU27 suppliers provide around 20% of UK sugar consumption (mainly from France and Holland). This trade would grind to a halt if MFN duties were imposed on mutual UK/EU27 trade (see companion article ‘Agro-Food Sector Effects of the Application of MFN Duties on EU27-UK Trade: An Area of Potential ACP Concern and Opportunity’, 18 August 2017). In this context, with expanded UK beet production likely to meet only 15% of UK consumer demand by 2019, sugar shortages could emerge with disproportionately high increases in UK retail sugar prices occurring.
This could create new opportunities for ACP sugar exporters to the UK, if public health concerns around ‘hidden sugars’ were to outweigh the lobbying efforts of Tate & Lyle Sugar to secure a removal of current import duties on world market priced sugar (see companion article ‘What are the implications for ACP sugar producers of Tate & Lyle Sugars expectations on UK sugar sector policy post-Brexit?’, 10 April 2017) and UK Department of International Trade (DIT) efforts to fast track the conclusion of FTA arrangements with major developing country groupings such as those in the Mercusor Group.
(1) Foodnavigator.com, ‘Healthiest products should be tariff free post-Brexit, says Sugarwise’, 25 August
(2) Foodnavigator.com, ‘FDF-BRC-back-coordinated-approach-to-sugar-reduction’, 21Augusts 2017
|Key words: Sugar, Food and Drink Federation, British Retail Consortium, Sugarwise
Area for Posting: Sugar, Brexit
Efforts to curb EU milk production expansion through financial incentives for voluntary production reduction are held to have met with some success in promoting improvements in farm gate milk prices. However rising farm gate prices is now stimulating a renewed expansion of milk production. This is despite prices still being below farm production costs. The EMB continues to call for a comprehensive Market Responsibility Programme which includes mandatory production restraint.
EU exports of SMP and fat filled milk powders to ACP markets continue to grow, with WMP exports being sustained. Certain ACP markets are also being targeted for increased cheese and butter sales.
While ACP markets remain of marginal significance to overall EU dairy exports, for certain products and for countries these markets collectively are of growing significance. In addition it should be borne in mind it only requires a small volume of EU exports to have a disproportionate effect on individual African dairy markets.
ACP governments seeking to grow their own milk production, as part of integrated dairy sector development strategies, will need to closely monitor current EU export trends, including in fat filled milk powders. ACP governments may need to look at what trade measures can be set in place to sustain local dairy sector development efforts. Extending the product coverage of EU MMO analysis of trade flows to include fat filled milk powders could assist in this regard. Read more “EU Milk Production Responding Once More to Price Recovery, with Buoyant Exports”
Avian flu outbreaks have left overall EU poultry meat production largely unaffected. Although AI related restrictions reduced EU poultry meat export volumes in the first half of 2017, particularly to South Africa the largest single export destination (-63%). Export growth to Gabon, DRC and Ghana while extremely high (+120%;96% and 69% respectively) could not outweigh declines in EU exports to South Africa and Benin. Beyond the current AI crisis in the EU, expanding imports of whole birds from Ukraine, the impact of lower feed costs on EU production and possible Brexit related disruptions of the EU27-UK poultry trade, could all fuel a further expansion of EU exports to Africa. This could continue to inhibit efforts to promote local poultry sector development across Africa. Patterns of Belgium poultry meat exports suggest African governments need to pay closer attention to the origin of poultry meat imports nominally originating in particular EU member states. Read more “EU poultry meat production rising despite avian flu outbreaks”
The planned growth in beet production by Tereos growers in France and the expansion of sugar production in the Czech Republic, alongside concerns over a possible Brexit related disruption of exports to the UK is seeing a major international export drive being launched. While South Asia the main target market, a sales office has also been opened in Nairobi. Tereos also has an expanding sugar cane production presence in East Africa. These developments could greatly increase competition for less competitive African sugar producers.
Expanded EU sugar exports could also contribute to stalling ant recovery in global sugar prices, which would be bad news for all African sugar exporters, given EU price developments will increasingly shadow world market price trends post sugar production quota abolition. Read more “Tereos Expanding its Presence the East African Sugar Sector”
While the debate in East Africa on the EAC-EU EPA continues, with the UNECA warning of the dangers posed by the agreement to the structural economic transformation of East Africa, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the EPAs as ‘not right’ and possible in need of re-negotiation. A key issue will be laying the basis for EU trade agreements to contribute to the structural economic transformation of African agro-food sectors. This issue needs to be taken up in the post-Cotonou negotiations in order to:
- enshrine an EU commitment to the flexible and responsible implementation of EPA commitments in legally binding agreements;
- address the systematic bias against smallholder producers and small scale exporters which exists in design and implementation EU food safety and SPS control systems;
- extend the current EU regulatory initiative son UTPs to ACP-EU supply chains;
- revise the design of loan and investment support instruments to effectively meet the needs of local agricultural producers and agro-processing companies.
Read more “Can the Post Cotonou Negotiations Provide the Context for a Rethink of the EU’s EPA Policy?”
EU farmers organizations continue to push for stricter SPS controls on citrus imports including the mandatory use of cold treatment. The South African citrus industry believes such a requirement would be an economic disaster for the industry. In the context of the Spanish citrus industry’s pressure for stricter EU SPS controls, the UK’s departure from the EU could offer a life line for the South African citrus industry. If SPS controls not relevant to UK agricultural production were lifted and duty free-quota free access to the UK market could be secured in line with the South African government’s current aspirations for post-Brexit trade relations with the UK, then less restrictive market access requirements would apply potentially opening up additional export opportunities to the UK market. Read more “EU Farmers Continue Campaign for Stricter EU Citrus Black Spot Controls”
EU dairy exporters have complained Canada’s system for the allocation of the CETA cheese TRQ unfairly favours local manufacturers. The EU makes use of similar yet even more severe arrangements for TRQ administration in sensitive sectors, with under the EU-South Africa TDCA import licences being allocated only to ‘approved undertakings’ (EU dairy companies) on food safety grounds. Important lessons in regard to how to ensure TRQ regulated imports under recently concluded EPAs do not undermine local producers can be learned from EU practices with regard to TRQ administration. These lessons could prove useful in ensuring that expanded imports from the EU in sensitive sectors do not undermine local agro-food sector development. Read more “Canadian dairy TRQ administration replicates earlier EC practices to consternation of EU Exporters”