Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Agri exports in the firing line if British exit the EU

Simon McKeever
Simon McKeever
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

A British decision to exit the EU would have an immediate impact on Irish agri exports due to the volatility of the pound, it has been warned.

Simon McKeever, head of the Irish Exporters Association, said estimates have varied from a 9pc to 20pc devaluation of sterling in the event that the UK votes to leave the EU.

"If a Brexit does happen the price of the pound is really the only immediate short-term consequence as there would be a two year period for Britain and the EU to negotiate an exit and whatever terms they can trade on going forward," he said.

However, with the UK the current destination for over 40pc of Irish agricultural exports, producers have warned the consequences could be high.

Already the weakening of sterling against the euro in recent months has put additional pressure on Irish meat exports to the UK, according to meat factory bosses.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII) chairman Philip Carroll warned that with 50pc of Ireland's €2bn beef exports destined for the UK, along with significant quantities of pork, sheepmeat and poultry, the impacts of a Brexit would be "significant".

He said it may drive up the cost of doing business, bring back day-to-day customs and certification issues and may also result in a deal between the UK and South American beef powerhouses.

The IFA's chief economist Rowena Dwyer said here was no provision for a negotiation of a special Ireland-UK trading deal.

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She pointed out studies have shown the drop in Irish exports to the UK could vary between €150m to €800m.

The farm body urged those with Irish relatives to highlight the risks to them.

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