We have created this position paper as a result of consultations with OATA members, industry and our Board of Directors. We listened to your concerns and have used this to come up with our six main objectives, which each of these underpinned with detailed information and recommendations about what we would like to see as the UK negotiates its way out of the European Union.

We have picked out some highlights below for each of our six objectives and you can read more about what we are proposing in the main document (click on the button on the right).

We believe giving the UK Government a set of recommendations and proposals will prove the best way to help achieve what’s needed for our small niche industry. However, this is a ‘live’ document and will change as we progress, particularly if we hear more opinions that enable us to refine its contents. So we continue to be very keen to hear from OATA members and businesses – if you have anything to add after reading the paper then please fill in our survey.

Retain good animal health and welfare standards post-Brexit
Health and welfare standards in the UK are among the highest in the world and should remain so. We are calling for:

  • The removal of the requirement for a Common Veterinary Entry Document (CVED) for tropical fish imports.
  • The removal of the requirement for a vet to check all fish consignments instead use a “suitably qualified person”.
  • The introduction of an earned recognition scheme for importers.
  • Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) to be given new powers to introduce emergency measures.

Retain sufficient levels of enforcement at the border to prevent illegal trade
Any reduction in efforts to prevent illegal trade across the border and in the internal UK market undermines the efforts and competitiveness of legitimate businesses. We are calling for:

  • Stricter enforcement.
  • Greater discretion for customs officers to use their commonsense when it comes to paperwork errors.

Remove barriers to trade by streamlining import and export controls to facilitate trade and keep burdens and costs to a minimum
This should include ensuring border clearance processes are efficient and reflect modern business practices, needs and limitations. This is very important for sectors dealing with livestock such as ours to avoid adverse impacts on animal welfare. We have also offered suggestions about how to further improve processes. We are calling for:

  • The working hours of staff involved in the clearance of live animal imports and exports at the border should reflect modern business practices.
  • Live animal imports to be prioritised by the National Clearance Hub and clearance time targets should be reduced to no more than one hour.
  • APHA staff to apply consistent approaches and standards across all BIPs to help to ensure consignments are handled as quickly as possible.
  • The cumulative impacts of these charges to be taken into consideration and efficiencies implemented to reduce the overall cost burden on businesses.

Give equal attention to markets we import from in considering trade deals
Our sector relies predominantly on imported livestock, with a (relatively) much smaller export market. We are calling for:

  • Government should give equal weight to the importance of imports from third countries on which many businesses rely.

Avoid reducing standards in products traded
Particularly those bought over the internet which do not meet UK or European safety standards. We are calling for:

  • The UK to introduce new controls that prevent the import (including over the internet) of products that do not meet our current safety standards.
  • The UK should require electrical goods to be certified prior to export and ensure safety standards are checked and enforced at the border.
  • In trade negotiations, the Government should ensure there is no diminution in standards that might allow the UK to become an easily accessible market for those trading in poor quality goods.

Remove unnecessary trade bans imposed by the EU
For example on species that are invasive elsewhere in the EU but which do not pose a problem in the UK, such as water hyacinth which cannot survive our winters. We are calling for:

  • The UK should undertake a comprehensive review of all restrictions and bans on animal and plant species and remove them where there is no realistic threat to domestic wildlife.
  •  A risk-based approach should be taken when reviewing current restrictions and considering future potential controls.

We have become increasingly concerned that the Government continues to press ahead with policy and regulatory changes that take no account of what a post-Brexit world may look like and that run contrary to the Government’s stated policy that it will avoid the introduction of non-tariff barriers to trade. Our CEO Dominic Whitmee wrote to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Defra, on this very point. The response he received from Lord Gardiner failed to address this key issue.

Here is an article we wrote for the OFI Journal in March 2018 giving the UK perspective on progress towards the UK leaving the EU.

Read our response to a call for evidence from the House of Lords’ EU Energy and Environment sub-committee on animal and plant health after Brexit.