A hard Brexit would lead to a reduction in UK imports of poultry, beef and dairy from the Netherlands while resulting in a slight increase in the flow of Dutch pork and tomatoes onto the British market.
That was the headline conclusion of a new study by researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands which calculates that Dutch farmers will see about €500 million (£445m) a year wiped off the value of their current UK-bound products.
This equates to 1.8 per cent of the current export value of the total Dutch farming sector.
While written largely from a Dutch perspective, the university’s 44-page Brexit report also explores the implications for UK farmers of its post-Brexit predictions, highlighting several areas of potential export/import disruption between the two countries.
There was also a specific warning to any Dutch businesses which have no previous experience of exporting to non-EU countries that they should start searching now for new post-Brexit markets.
The UK is an important trade partner in agricultural products for the Netherlands, with 10 per cent of all Dutch farm exports finding their way onto the British market. Going the other way, 3 per cent of all Dutch imports originate from the UK.
Although the report concludes a post-Brexit free trade agreement between the UK and EU would effectively leave trade flows much as they are at present, the opposite outcome is forecast under a hard Brexit solution.
Given no agreements between the EU and the UK on a new trading relationship, the report’s authors said present trading arrangements between Britain and the Netherlands would be ’hindered by import tariffs and higher trade costs’.
As for whether or not the forecast £445m reduction in the value of Dutch farm products arriving in the UK might actually be of benefit to British farmers, the Wageningen report drew attention to UK farmers’ current reliance on migrant labour, questioning the ’potential negative impacts’ which the loss of such labour might have on UK farming operations.
The report said: “Free Trade Agreement projections show minor effects on bilateral trade flows between the Netherlands and the UK.
"A World Trade Organisation scenario, meanwhile, implies additional trade costs and import tariffs, of which the latter are relatively high for beef, butter and cheese, affecting Dutch exports to the UK negatively for these items.
"Exports of pig meat and tomato increase, however, due to Dutch price competitiveness in the UK market.”