Martin Coughlan: First shots fired at Irish beef fail to dent prices
The UK government's attempts to sabotage the Irish cattle trade with threats of chronically high tariffs should be seen, in my opinion, for what they were - a crude attempt to turn Irish beef into a political bargaining chip.
The old policy of divide and conquer appeared to be coming to the fore.
Never one to miss a trick, Meat Industry Ireland's Cormac Healy was out of the blocks straight away. He quite rightly stated that tariffs "will undermine the viability of trade".
Mr Healy outlined the worst-case scenario with tariffs of "€1,500 per tonne on manufacturing beef up to over €2,500 per tonne on steak exports" followed by his assertion that "very quickly, we can expect to see erosion of our position in the UK due to stiff competition from lower-priced beef from other regions".
The ICSA then said the tariff rates by the British government crystallises the worst fears of the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the Irish beef sector.
"In practice, this suggests that Irish beef which is subjected to the tariff will be about 40pc dearer than currently and therefore most UK consumers would be deterred from buying it," said the ICSA.
"UK supermarkets would then have to choose between vastly increased beef prices or buying less traceable, low-standard beef from South America."
Yet Tesco in the UK said it only sells Irish and British beef in the UK and has no plans to source from elsewhere as much of the product in South America does not meet its strict quality standards.