Defra and Livestock Industry Announce UKECP

UK - Defra and the UK livestock export industry launched a new partnership on 28 October to help exporters enjoy a larger share of the global market.
calendar icon 6 November 2008
clock icon 5 minute read

The new UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP), built on the success of the Export Certification User Group that has been meeting over the last six years, will further improve the use of joint Defra and industry efforts to negotiate with non-EU markets.

Rob Wills, Executive Director of the British Livestock Genetics Consortium (BLG) said: "BLG has played a leading role in both the User Group and the establishment of UKECP. This unique partnership is quite novel and should greatly help the livestock and meat sectors on certification matters. It reflects the trusting and mature relationship that we have developed with Defra."

Initially a three year trial, UKECP is an informal industry working group that:

  1. liaises with the UK livestock and livestock product industries to establish export market priorities;
  2. provides a forum to discuss the use of Defra agents to negotiate export health certificates on behalf of the UK; and
  3. helps to draft and follow through the agreement of export health certification which is generally required before exports can commence.

Farming Minister Jane Kennedy said: "Britain has a world-class livestock industry, but to get the most out of competitive international markets it's crucial that the Government and Industry works together. After disease outbreaks in the past, the partnership between government and industry has helped to speed the re-opening of the international markets, and this new partnership will strengthen that response and widen the opportunities available to our exporters."

Peter Hardwick, International Manager of the Agriculture, Horticulture Development Board Meat Services (AHDBms) said: "The UK Export Certification Partnership strengthens the already excellent co-operation between industry and government on market access work. It will facilitate greater flexibility in the allocation of resources to what is often a very time consuming and complex process. International markets are essential to the profitability of the UK meat and livestock sector and we are confident that this new initiative will open up even more avenues to develop further our international trade."

Some background details to certification and the Partnership:

  1. Following an animal disease outbreak in any country, animal export markets will suffer because many countries will close their borders to the import of animals and/or products of animal origin until a lengthy negotiation process have been completed. This will inevitably include the re-negotiation of export health certification which is required for non-EU exports.

  2. In the aftermath of the 2001 UK Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak a new working relationship between Defra's International Animal Health Team and UK livestock and livestock products exporters developed in the shape of a working group called the Export Certification User Group (ECUG). ECUG has met regularly over the years and has operated successfully as a consultation and discussion group for the prioritisation of certification activity and agreement on certificates.

  3. After the FMD outbreak in 2007, a Recovery Programme with Defra and Industry funding was taken forward. As part of that programme, Defra officials and Industry representatives (primarily from ECUG) visitied priority markets to try and speed up the process of re-establishing certification to allow exports to recommence. The programme was very successful. Many important markets were reopened far quicker than had been managed back in 2001/2.

  4. The demand from industry to recover markets also brings with it the need for large numbers of certificates to be drafted and followed up. This demand is greater than can be met by the existing resources in Defra. This inevitably results in frustration for both the exporters and importers, often leading to potential export opportunities being lost. ECUG has shown that industry can help to draft certification and alleviate some of these bottlenecks.

  5. The success of the 2007 Foot and Mouth Recovery programme has led to discussions about how this method of partnership working could be continued. The resulting proposal is for the Export Certification User Group to evolve into a three year pilot initiative called the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP).

  6. The 3 main functions of UKECP:
    1. Country visits - Industry representatives will be accredited Defra agents and visit target countries to represent the UK's Chief Veterinary Officer. They will explain the UK's animal health status and animal health programmes to non-EU country government officials and will discuss the wording of export health certificates for UK exports to that country.
    2. Certification - The industry partners in UKECP will draft letters, export health certificates and other support documents on behalf of Defra. Industry partners will consult with the relevant UK industry sectors on the draft documents before submitting them to Defra for final clearance.
    3. The partnership will also take over the functions of ECUG in consulting with the UK-wide industry on priorities for export certification.

  7. Defra International Animal Health will work with Industry partners in UKECP nominated by the following industry bodies, with the objective of ensuring that all the sectors identified above are properly represented:

    Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Meat Services, representing BPEX and EBLEX
    British Livestock Genetics Consortium Ltd (BLG)
    British Pig Association
    Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC)
    Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland (LMC)
    Quality Meat Scotland (QMS)

  8. UKECP will have its own website ( which is currently under construction.
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