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International Trade

NOAH priorities for international UK trade agreement negotiations

NOAH has set out its priorities for international UK trade agreement negotiations in relation to veterinary medicines.


  • The UK has a global reputation for high standards in animal health and welfare. This reputation must be maintained and NOAH is ready to assist in ongoing and future trade agreement negotiations to ensure optimal benefit for UK citizens, farmers and the UK economy.
  • Trade in veterinary medicines and their components should be free of tariffs and quotas to ensure the
    sector stays competitive.
  • Where there are preferential or free trade agreements, rules of origin should not restrict the supply and manufacturing processes of veterinary medicines.
  • Science-based regulation will help to promote innovation in the sector, as well as making the livestock products sector more competitive on global markets.
  • Where possible, UK should adhere to, and encourage uptake and use of the international harmonisation of regulatory requirements, through bodies such as the International Cooperation on
    Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Veterinary Medicinal Products (VICH) and Codex Alimentarius.
  • The World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
    (SPS) sets out the basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards. Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) chapters of future trade agreements should include cooperation on Maximum
    Residue Level (MRL) setting and regionalisation, as well as mutual recognition or equivalence agreements on Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), pharmacovigilance and regulatory assessments
    and submissions.
  • NOAH would also encourage the use of Veterinary Equivalence Agreements with countries with which there are no ongoing trade discussions, to ease the flow of livestock products.
  • Where possible and desirable for animal health companies, primary packaging requirements should be harmonised between UK and its trade partners.
  • The UK should ensure its progress in reducing antibiotic usage in the veterinary sector and tackling antibiotic resistance is recognised by trade partners with a commitment from future trade partners to comply with the CODEX Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
  • Trade agreements should also ensure strict Intellectual Property controls on veterinary medicines to support innovation as well as a commitment to tackle the illegal supply and trade of both authorised and unauthorised veterinary medicines.
  • NOAH would encourage the UK to join the Multiparty Interim Appeal Arbitration Agreement (MPIA), and work with WTO member countries towards restoring the WTO’s Appeal process.

The full document is available here.

EU and UK trade and relationship

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, with the transition period ending on 31 December 2021. The EU-UK trade and co-operation agreement (TCA) has been published, with a specific Annex (TBT-2) dedicated to medicinal products, both human and veterinary

UK/EU Trade deal

NOAH has previously welcomed the free trade agreement between the UK and EU. Confirmation that there will be zero tariffs and zero quotas is a key priority for NOAH as this will help ensure the continued availability and supply of animal health products for UK vets, farmers and pet owners. However, there will be some changes at the point of import/export involving additional bureaucracy for business.

Vitally important for the viability of the UK livestock sector is that trade in the majority of food and plant products can continue.

The UK retains regulatory autonomy. For our sector, a complete revision of the UK Veterinary Medicines Regulation 2013 will be required and this will form a major focus of NOAH’s work in 2021. It will provide opportunities to develop the regulatory climate business needs to encourage and foster innovation in the UK. This will involve a comprehensive review to ensure that the veterinary medicines regulations are fit for purpose for many years to come.

On areas such as the fight against AMR and sustainability, NOAH welcomes the collaborative approach set out in the trade agreement. A joined-up One Health approach is an integral part of NOAH’s Vision for Animal Health and Welfare.

A specialised Working Group on Medicinal Products, including veterinary medicinal products, has been established under the Partnership Council set out in the agreement. This will assist the Specialised Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade, reviewing and ensuring proper functioning of the Annex referring to medicinal products. A mutual agreement on Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and on GMP inspections is included which is welcome.  Currently, important issues such as the mutual recognition of batch testing, certification and release; any collaboration with the EU regulatory network; mutual recognition of Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for veterinary medicines for food producing animals or UK collaboration with the EU on matters relating to pharmacovigilance are not included.

NOAH will continue to work with Government and others to help protect the nation’s animals, ensuring medicines are available, looking at the opportunities for UK agriculture in future trade agreements and ensuring the UK is an attractive market for new animal health product innovation.



Common statement UK/Canada

Until a free trade agreement with Canada is in place, this exchange of letters outlines that an interim arrangement for continued cooperation on the application of the CETA Protocol on pharmaceuticals. Specifically, this means that Canada and the UK will continue to recognise Certificates of GMP Compliance issued by each country’s regulatory agencies and to accept batch testing certificates held by a manufacturer without re-control of that batch at import.

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