Every effort should be made to avoid border controls - House of Lords report
A report from the House of Lords on the UK’s stance on agriculture, in light of Brexit, is recommending that there is no custom controls should re-introduced between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
The report, which is due to be published tomorrow and has been seen by FarmIreland.ie, says that agri-food supply chains are particularly highly integrated between Northern Ireland and the Republic and the re-introduction of border controls and tariffs could severely disrupt this industry and could lead to an increase in cross-border smuggling.
Every effort should be made to avoid the re-introduction of customs controls on the Irish land border, the report, which is compiled by the European Union Committee of the House of Lords.
The report goes on to say that leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the European Union will have fundamental implications for the agricultural sector in the UK. While it says that in the long term the UK has an opportunity to review and improve its agriculture, environment, and food policy, in the short term the sector faces critical challenges.
The report also points out the quandary the UK finds itself in around tariffs on food imports – that high tariffs on imports would raise the cost to UK consumers, whereas lower tariffs could reduce the cost of food to consumers, but might undermine the domestic agricultural sector’s competitiveness.
When it comes to negotiating a UK-EU trade agreement, the report says that because the UK is a net importer of food and therefore a very attractive market for agri-food products both from the EU and globally, which should give it a strong position during trade negotiations for those products both with the EU and, after Brexit, with third countries.
However, leaving the EU brings with it uncertainty around its own exports as the EU is also the single largest market for UK agri-food goods and a fall back position of WTO rules would severely hit the pig and sheep meat sectors.
It recommends that a UK-EU trade deal should avoid the imposition of tariffs on trade in both directions and says that third country deals will not be able to offset reliance on the EU for quite some time.