Tuesday 16 July 2019

Irish goods make up 75pc of UK's beef imports as Britain stockpiles


Stock Image: PA
Stock Image: PA
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Irish beef accounted for 75pc of Britain's beef imports in November, according to the latest trade statistics in the UK.

In total, 20pc more frozen product has arrived in the year to November - thought to be in preparation for Brexit.

The growth has particularly come from Irish boneless product.

Imports of beef from Ireland were 18,600 tonnes - a 5pc increase within the year. This constituted 75pc of total imports.

"Although imports of frozen beef have generally been rising in recent years, this increase is thought to be in preparation for Brexit. Imports of fresh beef are down 1pc year on year," said AHDB analyst Duncan Wyatt.

Manufacturers here are reporting that finished goods are taking up most cold storage space as stockpiles hit a six-month high across the UK in preparation for a no-deal Brexit.

Meanwhile, Irish fisheries groups have welcomed an EU proposal to compensate trawlers in the event of a no-deal Brexit, if EU boats are barred from UK waters.

A no-deal Brexit would automatically mean a ban on British boats fishing in EU waters and EU boats from fishing off Britain.

The European Commission has now proposed two possible measures to reduce the impact. One would allow compensation for European fishermen who currently fish in UK waters if they find themselves cut off after Brexit.

The other proposal would pave the way to grant Britain access to EU fishing waters until the end of 2019, in return for Britain allowing EU fishermen into its waters.

Seán O'Donoghue, chief executive of the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation, based in Donegal, welcomed the move.

Even a temporary reprieve is an important step to avoid catastrophe on the fishing grounds on March 30, he said.

"Ireland's two biggest fisheries, mackerel (60pc) and nephrops (40pc), are hugely dependent on access to UK waters with the overall dependency for all stocks of over 30pc," he said.

The commission said its proposal is limited to 2019, adding it would aim to agree the two proposals with the European Parliament and the European Council, by Brexit day.

Yesterday in the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the Government is working hard to protect the agriculture and fishing industries as Brexit looms.

Mr Varadkar said 30pc or 40pc of Government time is now taken up with Brexit.

"Our farmers, fishermen and agri-food industry are at the forefront of my mind and the minds of all in this Government because they and the rural economies associated with them are most likely to be adversely affected by Brexit."

Irish Independent

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