Farmers urge government to revisit Brexit tariff rates

Temporary tariffs would be applied to beef, lamb, poultry and some dairy products in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit
Temporary tariffs would be applied to beef, lamb, poultry and some dairy products in the event of a 'no deal' Brexit

A farming union has called on the government to ensure that imports of agri-food products are subject to the same tariffs customs as those that will be applied to exports from the UK.

Published earlier this year, farmers have expressed concern for the impact on agriculture with tariff rates either fully or partly removed in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Some industry groups highlighted how they would leave farmers exposed to the full effects of competition from countries whose standards of production are often considerably lower than the UK's.

The applied tariff schedule means a sizeable reduction in tariff rates for incoming beef, poultry meat and dairy products.

It also means a complete removal of the tariffs barrier for the egg, cereal and vegetable sectors despite World Trade Organisation tariffs being placed on UK exports of these products to the EU.

Special tariff arrangements will apply to imports over the Irish land border, this means that all products crossing into Northern Ireland will have no tariff charged at all.

Northern Irish sheep farmers have said the tariff regime at the border with the Republic of Ireland would 'crush' the sector.

Because of these concerns, NFU Cymru has urged the new government to revisit the applied tariff rate set by the previous government in March this year.

Speaking today (13 August) at Pembrokeshire Show, NFU Cymru President John Davies said: “We welcome the recognition from government for tariff protection in respect of lamb, which means that lamb imported into the UK faces the same 48% tariff rate as our exports of lamb to the EU27.

“However, the picture is a little more complex than that as the majority of lamb imported to the UK comes from New Zealand which will continue to be subject to a generous tariff free quota.”

“NFU Cymru is of the view that tariffs on agri-food products should be levied on a reciprocal basis, that is to say the tariff charged by the UK on goods entering the country matches the tariff charged on our exports of such goods.

“We have requested, through Secretary of State Alun Cairns, that these tariff rates are urgently reviewed with a view to ensuring that tariffs are applied on a reciprocal basis to provide some level of protection to the world leading standards our farmers adhere to the UK.”

Planning within the government has dramatically intensified for a no-deal Brexit under Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

NFU Cymru said that MPs must 'work tirelessly' for an agreement with the European Union to avert a no-deal 'at all costs'.