Irish beef industry would be 'wiped out' in event of no-deal Brexit, experts warn

Stock picture. Damien Eagers / INM
Stock picture. Damien Eagers / INM
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

THE Irish beef industry would be wiped out in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to one of the authors of a report on alternatives to the Brexit backstop.

Shanker Singham from the Alternative Arrangements Commission, a non-governmental panel chaired by Conservative MPs, said there would be “mutually-assured destruction” of the beef sector in the UK and Ireland if Britain leaves without a deal on October 31st.

Mr Singham said the impact would be far greater than that of the EU-Mercusor trade deal that has sparked anger amongst beef farmers in recent days.

“The UK has already published its no-deal tariff schedule and if people are worrying about the 99,000 tonnes of Mercosur beef in a no deal there would be hundreds of thousands of tonnes of beef coming into the UK market [in a no-deal scenario] because it’s a very lucrative high-price market.

“Everyone - the Australians, the Americans, the New Zealanders, the Argentinians, the Brazilians - they will all want to sell hundreds of thousands of tonnes of beef to the UK which is what they could do in an no-deal environment. It would wipe out the Irish beef industry, it would probably wipe out the UK beef industry as well."

Mr Singham and AAC members, including former UK trade minister Greg Hands, were in Dublin to meet with politicians and interest groups in a bid to gain backing for their plans to break the Brexit impasse.

In a report published last week, the group proposed a range of solutions, including that Ireland and the UK would operate inside a common food safety and animal health area, a trusted trader scheme for customs declarations and mobile inspection teams operating away from the border. The report has been met with scepticism from the Irish government and the EU.

But Mr Hands said he hoped Irish politicians would be open to the proposals his group was putting forward. He met the Taoiseach at the US ambassador’s July 4th celebration on Wednesday evening.

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“I was pleased that he was aware of the alternative arrangements and the commission and that was good,” he said, while declining to go into further details about the conversation.

Mr Hands said that existing technologies being used at border crossings worldwide could be harnessed to create a solution for the Irish border. “We’re not saying: 'We’re copying the US-Canada border, or the Sweden-Norway border, or the Swiss-EU border - or any other border - and putting it down the middle of the Ireland.' What we’re saying is we’re learning aspects of each of these borders, as to what can work overall in a package that avoids border infrastructure, and the trusted-trader programme is a key part of that - and it works well.”

Online Editors

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