Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 29 April 2017

Farmers 'face huge damage from new post-Brexit tariffs'

Approximately 40pc of Irish food exports go to the UK, while Ireland imports €2.8bn worth of food from the UK every year. Stock Image: PA
Approximately 40pc of Irish food exports go to the UK, while Ireland imports €2.8bn worth of food from the UK every year. Stock Image: PA
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Irish beef and dairy exports could face tariffs of up to 60pc and 50pc respectively in the event of a hard Brexit, according to a study.

The Department of Agriculture has taken an initial study on the potential impact on trade between Ireland and the UK of Britain leaving the EU.

The initial results show that Irish beef and dairy exports to the UK could face tariffs of up to 60pc and 50pc respectively.

Approximately 40pc of Irish food exports go to the UK, while Ireland imports €2.8bn worth of food from the UK every year.

Some 50pc of Irish beef is currently exported to the UK and the UK is a net importer of beef - it imports 35pc of its beef requirement.

Further, Irish beef exports to the UK represent about 10pc of the intra-EU beef trade, figures from the IFA show.

Any displacement of Irish beef exports to the UK could, it says, destabilise the EU beef market.

Some 34pc of Irish dairy exports go to the UK, including 53pc of Irish cheese exports and 29pc of butter exports. Irish cheddar accounts for 82pc of all the UK's cheddar imports.

It is highly unlikely the UK will negotiate its complete exit of Europe within a two-year timeframe once it triggers Article 50, which formally begins its exit from the EU.

If no trade deals are agreed, the UK and Europe will potentially fall back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade agreements which include trade tariffs of up to 60pc and 50pc on Irish beef and dairy exports.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has insisted the Government was fully committed to seeking a negotiated settlement between the EU and UK on Brexit, which would provide for continued unfettered access to the UK market, without tariffs and with minimal additional customs and administrative procedures.

However, both jurisdictions may have to apply the WTO tariff rates to their imports.

One expert in this area, Alan Matthews - who is Professor Emeritus of European Agricultural Policy - explained that we knew what UK exports to the EU would face if there was no trade deal. But he added that it was unclear what tariffs the UK might impose on Irish or EU exports to the UK.

Mr Matthews said no one knew what rate of tariffs the UK might apply to food imports.

It would be a "worst-case scenario" if the UK applied 60pc and 50pc tariffs, which were the maximum WTO tariffs it could apply.


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