NI agri-food alliance warns of no-deal Brexit
As the Brexit machine rumbles on, we are still completely in the dark as to the situation in Westminster. While the squabbling goes on there, an alliance of Northern Ireland agri-food producers has yet again warned of the devastating consequences faced by businesses in that part of the world.
19 March 2019
Responding to Government proposals on tariffs in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the agri-food alliance, representing the main food organisations in Northern Ireland, said that for the UK to “crash out” of the EU would be a fatal blow to indigenous food production in the region, and indeed across the UK. “It must not be contemplated,” the group said in an emphatic statement.
“These proposals could give the European Union unfettered access to Northern Ireland, and therefore Great Britain, whereas Northern Ireland producers will not be able to freely export to the EU,” the alliance’s statement says.
Agri-food supports £1 in every £6 in the Northern Ireland economy, employing some 100,000 people. A ‘no deal’ Brexit on these terms would be devastating, according to the alliance. “It would crush our farming base,” the group said, “destroying family businesses within weeks. Also it would decimate investment leading to closures and job losses.
“We would also face gridlock on our roads and at our ports with the increased volume of goods coming from the Republic of Ireland in transit to Great Britain.
These proposals leave Northern Ireland uniquely exposed, says the Agrifood Alliance. “We are now going from a position where we have all the benefits of EU membership to being faced with the worst of all worlds, the group said. “It would be a hugely backward step for Northern Ireland, not just economically, but socially and politically.
“Tariffs can be switched on and off within a few months but the impact on farming and food manufacturing would be far from short term. In one fell swoop, the UK food industry could be destroyed, taking generations to re-build and costing billions in investment and Government support in the process.”
“Even the announcement of these proposals is already affecting markets as food buyers hedge their decisions awaiting the outcome. It is imperative that MPs take ‘no deal’ off the table.”