Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Irish beef and dairy processors highlight critical importance of UK trade

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Representatives of Ireland’s dairy and beef processing sector have highlighted the threats to Ireland’s agri-food industry from Brexit.

Speaking after the UK triggered Article 50, the Irish Dairy Industries Association (IDIA), the Ibec-affiliated group representing the primary and secondary dairy manufacturers called for the dairy industry to be a high priority for the Irish Government in the forthcoming negotiations.

Conor Mulvihill, Director the Irish Dairy Industries Association, said that Irish dairy is the fastest growing agri-food industry in the EU delivering jobs and wealth all over rural Ireland, grouping by almost a quarter since the end of EU quotas in 2015.

“We are a deeply integrated industry with strong north/south and east/west ties on these islands that have been built up over generations. IDIA member businesses are key players north of the border and in the UK mainland.

“To take the example of cheddar alone, 2016 saw the UK import over 78,000t of Irish product, which represented 82pc of all the cheddar they imported.

“But already we have seen the cold winds of Brexit and the related significant sterling deprecation mean that over 10,000 tones less of cheddar were delivered to our key partner market,” said.

Mulvihill also said WTO tariffs are set at a punitive €1,671/t for this product.

“To put this amount of product behind a threatened tariff wall of an extra €130m plus a year would be disastrous for the industry as the UK represents the only viable market for cheddar,” he said.

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Meanwhile, meat Industry Ireland (MII), the Ibec business sector organisation representing Irish meat processing and export businesses worth €3.7 billion, has highlighted the critical importance of maintaining business certainty during Brexit negotiations.

Cormac Healy, Director of MII said that "56pc of our meat exports accounting for in excess of €2 billion annually are sold into the UK market. 

“That is why the outcome of these negotiations are so important. A hard Brexit will result in massive trade disruption and job losses whereas a sensible outcome aimed at maintaining trading continuity will be beneficial to both the Irish and UK agri-food sectors,” he said.

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