Tariff Reduction Proposals Undermine UK Food Security

UK - Publication of the Government’s tariff schedule in the event of a no-deal Brexit has further exposed the catastrophic impact that a no deal would have on the nation’s farming; food and drink sectors and the wider rural economy.
calendar icon 14 March 2019
clock icon 3 minute read

In addition to the proposed tariffs on imports, the Union states that consideration must to be given to the damaging tariffs that our exports to the EU would face in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Only then would the impact of these ‘no deal’ proposals on the farming, food and drink sector be fully understood. The Union has repeatedly stated that tariffs on exports are a major concern for those sectors, like sheep, that are heavily reliant on access to the EU market.

Ahead of tonight’s Commons vote, NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick has written to every Scottish MP urging them to support Scottish farmers and crofters by taking a ‘no deal’ off the table once and for all and highlighting the damage that could be levied on the sector if this outcome should ever come to pass.

With the import tariff schedule only being unveiled 16 days before Brexit day (29 March), it leaves farming and food businesses little time to prepare not least for the prospect of tariffs being attached to our exported goods to countries with which we currently enjoy free trade arrangements.

While many agricultural products will be deemed sensitive, we are concerned that cereals, fruit, vegetables and eggs will not have the same level of protection. In excluding some sectors, the Government is failing to recognise that the impact of a no deal Brexit will be felt across every agricultural sector.

Even those sectors that are to be treated sensitively will, in most instances, see worrying and large reductions in the tariff rates currently charged on non-EU imports.

NFU Scotland President, Andrew McCornick said: "The ‘no deal’ tariff schedule unveiled today undermines the food security of the UK.

"It is wholly unacceptable that, in the event of a catastrophic no deal Brexit, the Government intends to treat EU and non-EU products being imported to the UK differently to the way that they will treat our own produce. Why should our exporters face tariffs when the UK Government is planning to let a lot of produce in tariff free?

"Exports and Imports should be treated in the same way and all agricultural products whether meat, dairy, cereals, fruit, vegetables and eggs should be treated in the same manner by the UK Government and given the same level of protection.

"Farming is highly integrated and what has a negative impact on one sector will ripple through the entire industry. In a no-deal scenario, the government must reconsider its approach to tariffs and how it ensures that this country will be able to produce its own food.

"MPs must also use their vote wisely this evening (13 March) and a no deal Brexit must be permanently taken off the table and a workable solution identified by MPs and government as a matter of urgency to deliver some kind of order out of what is currently chaos."

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