Abattoirs should register as Trusted Traders under WTO rules to allow British meat exports to flow to the EU in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, says Stuart Agnew, UKIP MEP and EU Agriculture Committee member.
It is over two years now since the referendum vote and uncertainty about trading arrangements is becoming an increasing concern to farmers.
This is not necessary, and is being driven by the pincer movement of the EU wanting to punish us for leaving and our Government institutions who never wanted to leave in the first place.
The talk is of a ‘cliff edge’ if we leave without a deal and move to a default of World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms and experience considerable delays or ‘friction’ with the movement of goods.
Very little mention is made of the 2017 WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which has arrived at a fortunate moment and will considerably speed things up.
A key instrument in this is the concept of Authorised Economic Operators, otherwise known as ‘Trusted Traders’.
Once a company has applied for and received such a status, its vehicles will move unhindered across a border, but occasional spot checks at any point along the route are a condition. Farmers’ annual area payments work on this principle.
Our exporting abattoirs should have had the opportunity to register as Trusted Traders months ago.
I have registered my car with the authorities who operate the Dartford Thames Crossing. My number plate is recognised and the fee is debited from my account, with no toll booths required.
I am informed that, from a comfortable vantage point in a café close to the Canada-US border, you can watch lorries travelling both ways without checks. If this is possible there, it should be possible in Ireland.
Indeed, there had been general agreement about this until the arrival of the new Irish Premier or Taoiseach, Mr Leo Varadkar, who has joined forces with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, to create difficulties and obstructions.
Another term we should be hearing more of is ‘Mutual Recognition’ of standards in third countries.
Barnier is creating obstructions here as well by claiming that Mutual Recognition will undermine the single market.
He is being disingenuous because the EU already has such agreements in place with, for example, the US on insurance standards, Canada on manufacturing standards, Australia on automotive products and Israel on the standards of medical equipment.
British organic farming standards are a prime example of how Mutual Recognition could work in agriculture.
Finally, there are the threats of WTO maximum permitted food tariffs, which are ruinously high. It seems conveniently forgotten that these can work both ways and a tit-for-tat imposition of these tariffs will put EU farmers on the losing side.