Farming News - Industry responds to publication of no-deal import tariff schedule

Industry responds to publication of no-deal import tariff schedule

13 Mar 2019
Frontdesk / Finance

Responding to the publication of the Government’s import tariff schedule in the event of a no-deal Brexit, NFU President Minette Batters said: "While we are relieved that we are finally able to see the tariffs that will be applied on imported food in a ‘no-deal’ scenario, it is appalling that we only now have this opportunity to do so - a fortnight before they could come into effect. Farmers and food businesses have no time to prepare for the implications, which will be exacerbated by the fact that we will face tariffs on our own exports on food into the EU and other countries with whom we currently enjoy free trade arrangements. 

“Although we are pleased to see that the government has listened to our concerns and elected to treat many agricultural sectors sensitively, which may support farmers who are already facing disastrous disruption from no-deal, it is enormously worrying that some sectors will not have this protection – noticeably eggs, cereals, fruit and vegetables.

“Even those sectors that are treated sensitively will, in most instances, see worrying and large reductions in the tariff rates currently charged on non-EU imports. Furthermore, the approach taken by the government to lump products under the same high-level tariff code, for example whole carcases and high value cuts of fresh beef, means there is a high chance of market distortion for many sectors who are deemed to have been treated sensitively.

“We recognise the importance of ensuring food prices for consumers do not rise in a no-deal Brexit but we are deeply concerned that the approach to tariffs published today will mean a greater reliance on food produced overseas. This would not necessarily lead to cheaper food for consumers but would mean we export and increase the environmental impact of our food production while losing control of the high standards of animal welfare to which that food is produced. In a no-deal scenario the government must act immediately to revise these tariffs and quotas should this happen.

“But more importantly, the publication of this tariff is another example of how British farming will be damaged by a no-deal Brexit. No-deal must be taken off the table and a workable solution identified by MPs and government as a matter of urgency that takes us into an orderly Brexit.”

CLA Deputy President Mark Bridgeman said:

“With time now of the essence, it is vital that an agreement is found that can command the support of the House of Commons, so progress can be made on breaking the current political deadlock. This is likely to require an extension of Article 50.”

“While the result of yesterday’s vote should come as no surprise, it leaves rural businesses still facing significant uncertainty about what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will be. We believe the best course to avoid huge disruption for farming and negative consequences for the rural economy, is for MPs to unite today in numbers to reject a “no deal” Brexit.”

Commenting on the release of the UK’s import tariff regime in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, Mr Bridgeman said:

“We welcome the limited protections announced today for some areas of the farming industry. However, we should be under no illusion about the consequences of these tariffs coming into force. Under this potential trading regime many of our products will become uncompetitive in Europe, while quotas for global tariff-free imports will create further uncertainty.

“It is vital that the Government makes clear that there will be early action to help those producers directly affected manage the impact. Market interventions and encouraging consumers to “buy British”, will also help mitigate economic and social hardship in the event of a “no deal” Brexit and significant market disruptions.”