British plans to impose tariffs on Irish agri-food imports in the event of a no-deal Brexit would be “disastrous” — potentially wiping out the industry, the Irish Farmers’ Association warned Wednesday.
“Our most exposed sectors, particularly beef, simply will not survive the kind of tariffs being talked about,” association president Joe Healy said.
“This would have a devastating effect in the rural economy.”
The British government earlier on Wednesday said it would not apply tariffs on most EU imports if the nation leaves the bloc without a deal on March 29.
The aim is to prevent a jump in prices and the disruption of supply chains.
But charges would be applied on key Irish exports such as beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy to support British producers, the government said.
Britain is Ireland’s largest trading partner in the agri-food sector by far.
In 2017 the country received 38 per cent of Ireland’s agri-food exports according to government figures, making the Republic uniquely exposed to tariff hikes.
According to the IFA, Ireland exports 50 percent of its beef to Britain — making it vulnerable to a “direct hit” of 800 million euros ($900 million) under the proposed no-deal system.
“If we’re talking about tariffs, we are talking about a lose-lose scenario,” Irish minister of European Affairs Helen McEntee told RTE.
Britain has said it will not impose a tariff regime or customs border on goods moving across the land border from Ireland to Northern Ireland.
This raises the prospect of potential abuses if Irish goods are transported to mainland Britain via Northern Ireland.
“This regime is only temporary as we recognise that there are challenges associated with this approach,” the government said in a statement.