'UK Brexit stance may soften yet'
A new "half-way house" customs arrangement should be established to cushion the blow of a hard Brexit on the agri-sector, Alison Graham, ICOS European affairs executive has stated.
Speaking at the Arrabawn Co-Op AGM in Nenagh, Ms Graham told suppliers that prospects under a hard Brexit are not good for the dairy sector, particularly for cheese, and that steps should be taken to achieve a "concrete new customs relationship" with the UK.
The Brussels-based expert said that getting a transitional trade agreement for the period after the UK leaves the EU is critical. However, she anticipates that the UK position may soften after next month's general election.
"The UK previously said it would be open to some kind of customs arrangement with the EU," she said. "Brexit is an entirely new situation and there is certainly the idea that we could create an entirely new kind of customs relationship with them to accommodate continued trade.
"A transitional agreement is of critical importance for all businesses in order to avoid a 'cliff-edge scenario' which would see customs borders introduced overnight and tariffs on Irish exports to the UK.
"Maintaining customs arrangements close to the status quo under a transitional arrangement would allow industry the time to implement risk mitigation measures."
However, Ms Graham also told Arrabawn suppliers that the up-coming general election in the UK could "potentially see a strengthening of support for a more moderate Brexit".
"Perhaps we will see more of a conciliatory mood after the general election," she said.