The EFRA Committee at Westminster is calling for a fund to prepare British farming for Brexit, a specific impact analysis for each agricultural sector, plans for physical and IT infrastructure to be drawn up now, and for new trading partnerships to be explored.
The Committee’s ‘Brexit:Trade in Food’ report focuses on the impact on different agri-food sectors of the UK having to trade under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules in the event of no deal being reached between the UK and EU. This is particularly pertinent given the UK’s simultaneous withdrawal from the Common Agricultural Policy (the impact of which will be specifically considered by the Committee at a later date).
The report has made a number of conclusions including:
That the EU is the UK’s most significant trading partner and there is no guarantee that a free trade agreement will be reached.
WTO tariffs could possibly lead to higher costs for consumers but could lead to beneficial import displacement. A liberalisation of barriers could possibly lead to cheaper imports, produced to lower welfare standards, and damage British producers.
The agricultural industry needs clarity on the Government’s long-term vision, as reverting to WTO tariffs will have a significant impact on agriculture.