Balance of trade: reduce imports and increase domestic production if needed

meerkat“Export or die” was the government edict to business after the second world war, but Britain has not had a trade surplus since 1983. Import substitution, with its social, economic and environmental advantages, would be a sounder, safer strategy. 


Ireland is now celebrating the United States lifting of the ban on Irish beef after inspections of their production facilities by the US authorities, for the first time since it was imposed during the BSE crisis more than 15 years ago. There has been drive to sell more grass fed Irish beef overseas, including a ‘push’ into China.

Ireland is the first EU country to be approved and DEFRA hopes that British exports will resume shortly. Tom Fullick, NFU livestock advisor said: “When we get access, the fact that we export to the US sends a very strong message to other potential markets.”

But as a Lancashire farmer writes: “Must producers always jump when the NFU says jump?” 

“Taking too big a risk with such a huge export market leaves producers wide open to volatility. In the case of its sudden withdrawal this would lead to an oversupply bringing prices crashing down for all producers, even those unconcerned with export markets – yet again.

”This happened recently with our unsettled milk market.

”When Russian markets were suddenly no longer available, our own market was flooded. Italy, which didn’t even supply Russia, and often exceeds its quota (without paying the EU super levy), swiftly put huge quantities of cheese into EU intervention forcing it to close early – when intervention was meant to alleviate those who had lost their market suddenly.

“We must produce enough staple food for our own needs and not build aspirations upon on any one big export opportunity that may risk our own food security as a result”. 


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