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Boris’ ‘impossible’ deal has changed the whole dynamic of future negotiations

Boris’ fashioning of a new deal from Brussels that everyone thought impossible, has changed the whole dynamic of future negotiations, says Norman Bagley, head of policy at the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS).

When I signed up to this Brexit blog scenario, I, like most others I suspect, did not envisage years of procrastination and of going around the same houses endlessly.

 

So when I was sent a reminder last week to write this edition, I wondered what had changed since the last one.

 

One change is of course that we are now in a period of purdah in Westminster, so without any engagement with Defra or the Food Standards Agency, there is even less to talk about than usual.

 

More seriously, the fundamental change is that, like it or not, Boris has fashioned a new deal out of Brussels that almost everyone said was impossible.

 

Over-ruled

 

As readers will know, I always held the view that it was Republic of Ireland that would be the key to any deal being sorted.

 

This whole episode has totally debunked the mantra of EU negotiators that they would never reopen the agreement or discuss the Northern Ireland backstop.

 

For once, the politicians whose country’s self-interests were being threatened, have grown some balls and overruled the intransigent officials, which was quite a sight to see for sceptical old lags like me.

 

This has changed the whole dynamic of future negotiations, which in itself is extremely important.

 

Criticisms

 

There are two interesting criticisms of Boris and his deal. Firstly that his ‘get the deal done’ mantra is disingenuous as it is only the start on a long period of difficult negotiations on a full free trade agreement (FTA).

 

This is true, but so what? As without the initial deal nothing could progress, so I do not think that argument holds much water.

 

Secondly that his promise to get a trade agreement completed by the end of next year is impossible.

 

Again, this may well be true in terms of the purist trade expert’s point of view, but again this ignores the politics of the possible.

 

Status quo

 

As we speak, there is an ocean of current arrangements with EU member states that will simply roll over when the time comes, whilst the full terms of an FTA wind their way through.

 

Two examples are pharmaceuticals and financial transactions, but there are many more.

 

So my guess is that if by the second half of next year a full FTA by the end of the year is not going to happen, then we will see a flurry of bilateral type of deals which keeps things much as they are.

 

I could be wrong, but I believe in these circumstances the status quo would prevail.

 

Sense

 

Much of world trade is conducted without FTAs so there is plenty of precedent.

 

One area of concern is the UK having declared a unilateral zero tariff regime on EU imports whilst we could be exposed to tariffs on exports to them which would decimate the UK sheep industry.

 

Again, I might be naïve, but I believe sense will prevail – with the status quo prevailing.

 

All of the above is predicated on Boris winning a workable majority on December 12.

 

If that all goes tits up then Farmers Guardian might need to find someone else for the next blog, as I will have lost the will to live.

 

Norman can be found tweeting at @normanbagley1


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