CPTPP – A different viewpoint

Posted: 7 July 2023 | | No comments yet

Tony Goodger of the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers highlights some exciting benefits for the UK meat sector through new trade deals.

In October 2021 the Government published the “UK approach to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)”. A 66-page document making the case for joining the 11 existing members in a £9 trillion+ trade block of in excess of 500 million people.

Reading back over it, it is of note that the words ‘Beef’ and ‘Lamb’ are mentioned three times whilst the words ‘Pork’ and ‘Chicken’ aren’t mentioned at all! Neither for that matter is the word ‘Halal’.

Forward 18 months to Friday 31st March 2023 and what was an unusually busy day on the pages, with no less than six announcements in relation to the UK’s deal to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Among these was one headed ‘Promotional Material: Top 10 Benefits for the UK’ with benefit number seven announcing “a trade deal with Malaysia for the first time”.

According to recent figures 63.5 percent of Malaysia’s population are Muslim so it’s to be hoped that markets for UK Halal Lamb and Poultry can be opened.

But why so squeamish when it comes to the export opportunity for ‘Halal’ to Malaysia, The Gulf States, or any other trading nation with a Muslim population?

Meat in the CPTPP sandwich

Thinking big…should it be bigger?

As a country we promote our high levels of animal welfare and proclaim our food safety to be second to none, both features and benefits that buyers across the world should engage with.

In fact, returning to the 66 pages of the UK approach to joining the CPTPP it says on page seven (2.7.5) that:

“There is also growing appetite amongst these consumers for more high-quality meat products, for example, with agri-food imports for CPTPP growing at twice the rate of the EU. With CPTPP countries projected to account for 25% of global import demand for meat products by the end of the decade, this could also mean more British beef and lamb seen in supermarkets across Asia Pacific and the Americas.”

Clearly when the UK decided to join CPTPP they were thinking ‘big’, but do they think big enough?

Re-phrase 2.7.5 to read “…consumers for more high-quality meat and Halal meat products…” and ‘…could also mean more British beef and lamb as well as High Welfare British Halal lamb, chicken and beef seen in supermarkets and on menus across Asia Pacific…”. That would be thinking BIG.

It is good to be a member of the CPTPP, but time and hard work will be needed to reap the benefits for our economy.

According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, it’s not the UK who have been seeking membership.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping said at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in late 2020 that “China would actively consider joining CPTPP”. Which could make for an interesting geo-political stand-off given that a year later, Taiwan applied to join.

Other current applicants include Ecuador, Costa Rica and Uruguay with South Korea and Thailand also reported to be about to make applications and Ukraine and the Philippines said to be considering membership.

Wow, what a trading block that would be. Almost two billion people and who knows how many trillions of market value.

Be ready to take the opportunity

So, it’s important for the Government to not rest on what the UK has achieved in joining, but to help the UK meat and poultry industry to reap the benefits and to plan for the opportunities that will arise with the new applicants.

The industry too needs to craft it’s messaging to the existing opportunity and not just rely on customers coming to them. We must not be shy about developing and selling country specific products as opposed to simply hawking what we produce and consume here in the UK in the hope of finding customers who share our tastes.

This means that in addition to selling everything that we produce and are permitted to export to every market we now have access to, we now need to open constructive conversations with buyers about our manufacturing abilities to produce for their population’s requirements and their retailers private label ranges.

We must be prepared to be challenged and be confident to defend and promote our farmers’ integrity, production standards, hygiene and food safety and above all, the quality of our meat and poultry.

It is also important that the UK don’t just stop at CPTPP and that they look to the world’s largest free trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) whose 15 members include seven from CPTPP.

An exporter of British Sausages once said that he sees his business as not a British company which exports, but rather a global company based in the UK. He stopped viewing the market opportunities in the so-called Far East as exactly that long ago, and instead, with the help of technology and digital document transfer, views it very much as the Near East.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s Blueprint for Exports can make markets across the globe a reality for the whole of the meat and poultry industry with a suite of support for businesses, be you a PLC or a SME.

My advice: do your homework, grab the support that’s available, pop your passport in your pocket and go. Every new trade deal is an opportunity.

About the author

Tony Goodger is Head of Marketing & Communications and began working with AIMS in late 2019 as marketing and communications advisor.

He has worked in the food industry throughout his career firstly with United Biscuits PLC and then with the Meat and Livestock Commission / Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

His main interests are in public procurement of British meat, social media marketing, reducing the impact of the meat industry on the environment and business sales and marketing improvement both in the UK and overseas markets.

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