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UK Pork: Trade with China

Volume 701: debated on Thursday 21 October 2021

11. What recent assessment she has made of the potential effect on trade of the suspension of export licences for UK pork processing plants trading with China. (903694)

I am grateful for the question. This issue has affected pork exporters in many countries. To my knowledge, three British businesses are affected. In the 12 months to August 2021, British pig meat exports to China decreased by 3,642 tonnes, which is down 2.1%. The value of pig meat exported to China over the same period increased by £12.6 million, however, which is up 4.6%.

I am afraid it does appear that almost every single UK Government Department is trying to undermine the UK pig sector, and nowhere is that more keenly felt than in Brechin in my constituency. The Secretary of State said earlier to the hon. Member for Cambridge (Daniel Zeichner) that DEFRA will be supplying us with an answer to the China exports crisis. DEFRA is impotent; this is a trade issue. What is the Department for International Trade going to do about the crisis in exports to China?

I appreciate the strength of the hon. Member’s conviction in this area, but I come back to the core answer, which is that Her Majesty’s Government will work in every possible way we can to resolve such issues. Ministers have raised this issue with Chinese counterparts, and this Department continues to press the Chinese authorities for a swift resolution. We are working very closely with affected British pork processing plants. I would just make the point to him that we are very clear-eyed on our trade relationship with China. We have no plans to negotiate a trade deal, but we believe that more trade with our trading partners around the world, including China, is important, so we are working very closely on this.