Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 21 April 2019

North's farmers fear Border will be 'loophole' for State producers

'It is imperative that (UK) government does not allow the Northern Irish Border to become a loophole that only works to the benefit of Irish businesses to the detriment of UK producers'. Photo: PA
'It is imperative that (UK) government does not allow the Northern Irish Border to become a loophole that only works to the benefit of Irish businesses to the detriment of UK producers'. Photo: PA
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farmers in the North have written to the UK government warning that it must not allow the Irish Border to become a "loophole" that benefits Irish producers at the cost of UK farmers.

Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) President Ivor Ferguson, who signed the letter, said details of the no-deal tariff policy confirm its view that to leave the EU without a deal in place would be catastrophic for UK farming.

"It is imperative that (UK) government does not allow the Northern Irish Border to become a loophole that only works to the benefit of Irish businesses to the detriment of UK producers," he said after his group wrote to UK Chancellor Philip Hammond on the issues.

However, under the temporary plans announced by Brtish Prime Minister Theresa May's government, EU goods arriving from the Republic and remaining in Northern Ireland will not be subject to tariffs.

Under the proposals, Irish beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy going North can travel into the UK without tariffs, but if it travels there directly from the Republic there will be a bill.

Already, commentators are saying this could lead to a smugglers' dream as exporters could look to avoid tariffs that would be imposed on direct transport between Britain and the Republic of Ireland, by transporting such goods through Northern Ireland.

In their plans, the British government say "normal compliance and intelligence methods" will be used to detect any traders attempting to abuse the system.

UK ministers accepted that the new regime will cause "concerns" to Northern Irish businesses and farmers about the impact on their competitiveness.

Also Read


But they said these were the only steps that could be taken to deliver on the British government's commitment to avoiding a hard Border in the case of no deal.

However, a spokesperson for the Irish Farmers' Association said that the idea of attempting to route goods through Northern Ireland to avoid tariffs "lacked credibility".

Like their UK counterparts, Irish farmers were also highly critical of the tariff regime which they warned would be very damaging for both Irish and UK farmers.

Mr Ferguson said that farmers in the North have "very significant concerns about the damage" the tariff regime that would come into place in the case of crash-out would cause across the country.

He said treating Northern Ireland in effect as a separate customs territory from Britain is not appropriate.

Irish Independent