An update on the EU / Russian trade agreement.
The chap manning the telephone advice hotline in the cyberspace between Defra and the DTI, appeared unaware of the potential 'cascade' implications that any trade ban instituted by the EU, to protect their 1 billion euro export trade with Russia, may have on UK exports covered by the our (predictable, appalling and avoidable) bovine Tb status.
For almost 2 years the Russians have been rumbling, but we've imported their shaving brushes (are they Tb free?) , ratted on about pasteurisation and ignored their concerns.
When asked to give details of the range of 'animal products' covered by the new (as yet unavailable) veterinary certificates which came into being Oct 1st., and were described by the EU press release as an 'export opportunity', our man went to get advice from his superior.
Would any ban (if implemented) apply just to cheese, butter, skim etc.?
As we only exported 50 tonnes of butter to Russia in 2003, no big deal he said.
But the new agreement follows the chain of goods through other Member States, so what effect would that have ?
He didn't know.
Like the Beef Ban, (from which we are still suffering) which ended up banning not just a sirloin of beef, but wine gums and soap, blood products and cosmetics, would this vague term 'animal products' cascade downwards through caseine, lactose and whey powder, involving food manufacturers and medicines?
He didn't know, but was beginning to get the picture......
It is our understanding that our man went and had a talk with the Tb strategy team at Defra.
And a telephone call was made to the Commission, who declined to give specific answers to these points - over the telephone!
A representative 'spokes-person' was invited to discuss the implications of this 'EU export opportunity' where "there will be winners" (and by definition therefore, losers?) - face to face.
We hope he had time to pack his toothbrush.
Please note below in Comments some questions he took with him to (belatedly) ask the Commission.
To be continued........
(When we have the answers!)