Tariffs will mean Irish steaks are 25pc dearer in the UK

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Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Devastating tariffs will mean that the price of Irish food for British consumers will skyrocket - forcing many to turn away from our produce.

Tariffs would apply to 13pc of goods going to the UK, including key products from our agri-food sector - beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy products. For Ireland's most vulnerable sector, beef, the UK proposals suggest tariffs ranging from approximately €1,500/tonne on manufacturing beef (mince) up to over €2,500/t on steak exports.

This would represent an approximate 45pc increase in the price of Irish mince and a 20-25pc increase in the price of Irish steaks for consumers in the UK.

The proposed tariff of €221/t on cheddar will see Irish cheese having to shoulder an annual tariff in the region of €200m. The €22m proposed tariff on Irish butter could also increase significantly, as a range of other costs inflate this figure.

However, related factors such as customs costs, currency issues and an increase of international competition could mean that the final bill for Irish manufacturers and farmers will be a multiple of this. Experts have suggested the increased tariffs and costs could see an 8pc price rise for cheddar and perhaps up to 15pc for butter.

Cormac Healy, senior director of Meat Industry Ireland (MII), warned it would severely undermine trade.

"On top of this, the UK government has proposed zero tariff import quotas, that on the one hand fall massively short of existing beef import volumes entering the UK market and on the other hand open these quotas to all global suppliers.

"Very quickly we can expect to see an erosion of our position in the UK market in both volume and value terms, due to stiff competition from lower-priced beef from other regions of the world," said Mr Healy.

Meanwhile, Conor Mulvihill of Dairy Industry Ireland said the proposed tariff level would put Irish butter and cheddar under severe pressure in the UK markets at current consumer price rates and would necessitate increases at consumer level in the UK - something that their government desperately wishes to avoid.

"Worryingly, the British proposals again offer no solution for the island of Ireland milk origin issue or the regulatory divergence threat."

Irish Independent