Saturday 22 October 2016

North's farming sector vulnerable to Brexit - Foster

Published 11/08/2016 | 02:30

First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster, who backed a Brexit vote, has warned Theresa May that the North's economy and farming sector is now vulnerable to a loss of EU funding and tariffs on trade.

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In a joint letter with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to the UK Prime Minister, Ms Foster (pictured inset), pointed out the importance to Northern Ireland of EU funds.

The two leaders said the North's agri-food sector, including fisheries, represents a much more important component of the region's economy than it does for the UK as a whole.

"This is reflected in the fact that approximately 10pc of UK receipts from the CAP (Common Agriculture Policy) accrue to Northern Ireland (accounting for the majority of our EU funding) and a large proportion of our food and agriculture output is exported to other EU and non- EU countries," they said.

"Our agri-food sector, and hence our wider economy, is therefore uniquely vulnerable both to the loss of EU funding, and to potential tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade."

The leaders state that EU funds have been important to the Northern Ireland economy and peace process, and that since 1994, the North has received €13bn of European funding.

Between 2014 and 2020, it expects to draw down more than €3.5bn.

"The current uncertainty around the ability to draw down a proportion of these funds, and the absence of EU programmes in the future, is of real concern," the letter states.

Irish Independent

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