BELGIUM, Brussels. The United Kingdom's exit from the European Union has led to more red tape and a significant drop in two-way trade in livestock and meat.
At least that's according to data from the Brussels Commission, which is only available with a time lag for the first two months of 2021 due to Brexit. According to the data, EU meat exports, including pig, cattle and sheep by-products plus live animal trade, were down 27% compared with January and February 2020, to 164,340 t in carcass weight. Imports from the United Kingdom even slumped by half to 32,260 t.
If those of 2019 rather than the first two months of the previous year are used as a comparative figure, total EU exports of meat and livestock actually fell by 92,060 t, or 35.9%; imports from the island then decreased by 44,530 t, or 58%. While only two months of a year represent only a slice, the trend toward significantly lower trade volumes in the livestock and meat sector is clear. The new, extensive bureaucracy and logistics problems in border traffic are likely to be the main reasons for this.
All types of livestock, without exception, were affected by the decline in the exchange of goods. EU pork exports to the United Kingdom remained the most significant in January and February 2021 at 112,620 t; however, this was 21% less than the corresponding period last year. Meanwhile, live pig exports came to a complete halt during this period. EU member states' pork imports from the UK were down particularly sharply, falling 63.8% to 10,275 t.
The Brexit also led to losses in mutual beef trade. EU exports to the UK in this segment fell by 38.5% to 39,310 t in the first two months of 2021 compared to the same period last year; imports slumped by 47.6% to 12,560 t. EU imports of sheep and goat meat fared only slightly better, down 27.7% year-on-year to 8,910 t. The less significant export to the island fell by almost half to 2,320 t.