The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for an urgent review of the government’s no-deal trade tariff policy that would come into effect if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Under the current no-deal applied trade tariffs, the UK would be forced to trade on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, meaning UK farmers would face higher fees on exports such as 48% on lamb and 84% on beef.
In the letter, NFU President Minette Batters has reaffirmed the NFU’s view that a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for British farming and that any exiting of the EU must be smooth and orderly.
Mrs Batters added: “If we leave without a deal the sudden change in our trading relationship with the EU will have severe impacts on the UK food and farming sectors, not least due to the tariff treatment of both imports and exports.
“Clearly the imposition of tariffs on our exports to the EU will most likely lead to a surplus of domestic products on the UK market, while at the same time lower or no tariffs on imports into the UK will put further pressure on domestic producer prices.
“There’s also the risk that without the maintenance of tariff protections we would be in danger of opening up the UK to imported food which would be illegal to be produced here.
“The situation is particularly stark on the island of Ireland where no tariffs will be collected on imports across the land-border. There is no indication that such an arrangement will be reciprocated by the EU and there is nothing in practical terms to stop this trade becoming
an open gateway for all EU goods entering the UK duty free.”
The UFU takes a similar line on this crucially important issue. Union chief executive Wesley Aston said: “A No Deal Brexit will see the introduction of both a tariff regime and food standard controls on our exports to the EU including the RoI. At the same time, the UK government’s temporary tariff policy on imports will also be introduced which not only reduces the existing most favoured nation tariffs but also excludes agricultural goods coming from the RoI into NI from tariffs whereas such trade from the Republic of Ireland directly to GB would have these applied. A series of immediate measures will have to take effect from November 1. These include the introduction of a more balanced UK temporary import tariff policy for food products which uses tariff rate quotas to offset the higher tariff levels which are necessary and will protect both producers and consumers.”