With a no-deal Brexit still a possibility Quality Meat Scotland’s chief executive Alan Clarke welcomed the no deal clarity, but warned tariffs painted a ’mixed picture’ for the sector.
With a no-deal Brexit still a possibility Quality Meat Scotland’s chief executive Alan Clarke has welcomed the clarity that comes with publication of temporary import tariff rates.
He has however warned of a ‘mixed picture’ for the red meat sector.
He was also critical of the time it has taken the UK Government to publish this crucial information. Despite the votes taken in Westminster last week (March 13) the legal default is that the UK will leave without a deal on 29 March if no deal is reached.
“The announcement that tariffs will apply to imported beef, sheepmeat and pigmeat is, in the first instance, reassuring in that it suggests that there would be a defence against a sudden rush of product from low-cost producing nations,” said Mr Clarke.
“However, the introduction of a temporary Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) for beef at zero tariff open to any country, plus the continuation of existing TRQs for non-EU product like New Zealand lamb and some beef categories, mean that most of the deliveries of beef and sheepmeat to the UK will be as business as usual.
“The exception is pigmeat products where modest import tariffs will be applied and will offer some support for domestic market prices,” he added.
Mr Clarke noted that the simplification of the new beef tariff-free quota into three product categories (fresh chilled, frozen and cured) leaves open the prospect that the balance of, for example, fresh chilled product arriving on the market may change and lead to some market disruption with implications for market balance.
However, Mr Clarke emphasized that the most potentially concerning proposal for domestic producers is that the announcement makes clear that any new tariff arrangements will not apply to direct trade between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“The provision has been made for unconstrained movement of product directly from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland, while the proposed new TRQ could also be used for direct shipments of beef from Ireland to the UK,” said Mr Clarke.
“The monitoring of these two trade flows will be crucial to avoid unintended consequences for Scotland’s red meat products. We therefore welcome that HMRC has recognised this issue.”
Mr Clarke however warned the challenge of market access to Europe and globally for all red meat products, which is of particular concern to the sheepmeat sector, remained unresolved.