30,000 jobs in meat trade 'will be lost' if UK exits EU without deal

Ireland is the largest supplier of beef to the UK. Stock photo

Niall O'Connor

Irish farmers and businesses involved in the meat trade will be hit more severely by a hard Brexit than the infamous trade war between the European Union and Russia, a new report reveals.

The report, obtained by the Irish Independent, details how at least 32,000 jobs will be lost in the European meat trade if the UK exits the negotiations without a deal.

The paper warns that Ireland is the largest supplier of beef to the UK and the exposure for farmers and small and medium businesses would be much greater than for other EU states.

Tariffs of between 50pc and more than 100pc and additional veterinary and health checks, particularly along the Border, would face businesses in the event of a hard Brexit.

In a stark forecast, the report compares a hard Brexit to the trade war with Russia.

"The magnitude of the shock of a hard Brexit would be significantly greater than that caused by the Russian food import ban in 2014, and it would be more difficult to find alternative markets for diverted products," the report stated.

"The negative impacts will have ramifications for the beef, pigmeat and sheepmeat sectors throughout the EU."

The report was carried out on behalf of the European Livestock and Meat Trades Union, the representative body for the meat industry in Europe.

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"In the event of a hard Brexit, and in the absence of finding new ways to facilitate 'frictionless trade' when the UK leaves the customs union and single market, it seems inevitable that full customs controls and veterinary checks will be imposed between the EU and the UK and, as a consequence, between Ireland and Northern Ireland," the report said.

"This will not alone be a major setback to the interconnected and meat and livestock business on the island of Ireland, but it will undermine existing supply chains and lead to massive disruption to trade while imposing considerable additional transaction costs on top of the burden of trade tariffs."

There are some 15,000 jobs in Ireland directly involved in meat processing and a further 15,000 associated jobs.

Cormac Healy, senior director at Meat Industry Ireland, which is part of Ibec, said a hard Border will have major knock on effects for the EU 27 bloc.

Irish Independent

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