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Post-Brexit trade arrangements could decimate UK farming - Kendall

The nature of trading relations with the EU and rest of world in the event of a vote to leave the EU is critical to the future of UK farming. We have sought the views of both sides on this key issue.

How would UK-EU trade operate post-Brexit?
How would UK-EU trade operate post-Brexit?

Arguably the biggest question of all when it comes to the vote on the UK’s membership of the EU is what sort of trading arrangements would put in place post-Brexit.

 

The options were outlined in a recent report on the implications of Brexit for the agri-food sector.

 

We have asked key figures from the Remain and Leave camps for their views on how it could pan out - and what the implications would be for farming.

 

Farming Minister George Eustice, a key figure in the Leave campaign, insists it would be relatively straightforward to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with the EU, bringing minimal disruption to the farming sector.

 

But Sir Peter Kendall, a leading farming voice in the Remain camp, said this flies in the face of what the leaders of the Leave camp are saying.

 

He claimed the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are leaning towards an arrangement where the UK would have no formal trading arrangement with the EU but would be trading globally under general World Trade Organisation rules.

 

This, he said, could prove hugely damaging for farmers.

 


Read More

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Brexit briefing: Would UK farms lose vital access to labour outside the EU? Brexit briefing: Would UK farms lose vital access to labour outside the EU?
Farming's big Brexit decision - the key issues Farming's big Brexit decision - the key issues

George Eustice, Farmers for Britain

George Eustice, Farmers for Britain

"If we were to leave to leave EU and take control, opening markets and delivering free trade would become far easier.

 

"We would gain agility and the ability to make decisions and get things done.

 

"The truth is that the countries that have been most successful in opening markets and securing free trade deals are the independent nation states of the world.

"It is actually very easy to agree a Free Trade Agreement between the UK and EU provided people behave rationally and not petulantly.

 

"Our starting point is that we are in the single market now, have been for decades and there is a high degree of equivalence and compatibility in our approaches to issues like product specification, food safety and labelling.

 

"Last year, we exported £7.5 billion worth of food to the EU but we imported food worth £18 billion. We have an annual trade deficit with the EU in food alone of £10 billion so they need a free trade deal."

Sir Peter Kendall, Farmers For In

Sir Peter Kendall, Farmers For In

Part of the challenge for all of us is no-one knows what will happen, but history tells me we have, outside the EU, always favoured a cheap food policy. That means dramatically cutting our tariffs.

 

On the one hand, we have George Eustice outlining some reasonable policies but on the other extreme you have Michael Gove talking about tearing away tariffs and protection and running a cheap food policy.

 

That would allow UK farming to be decimated by permitting the dumping of low-welfare poor quality produce from anywhere it can be sourced.

 

It could be red meat from South America, poultry meat and there are tariffs on spring barley. What would happen if we had a big surplus somewhere else?

 

The argument put forward by the likes of (pro-Brexit economist) Patrick Minford is we are going to go through a period of pain but we will be fitter and smarter when we come out the other end. That is not exactly code, it is pretty blunt.

 

Free movement

 

In terms of what sort of trade deals we would establish, at the moment Gove and Boris seem to be talking more about a WTO-type deal because they know they cannot get involved in the free movement of people.

 

They are sacrificing the potential option of a free trade deal because they know they have got to play the immigration card.

 

Norway and Switzerland retain access to the Single Market by permitting free movement of people. That is the price they have to pay.

 

That is why Boris and Gove will argue for a WTO option - they know they will not agree to a single market.

 

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