Agri-food leaders urge authorities to be inclusive with UK following Brexit

Ireland’s agri-food leaders have urged the Government to do everything in its powers to ensure the EU maintains an open approach to future trade with Britain, following last Thursday’s Brexit referendum.

The IFA president, Joe Healy, said Irish farmers were understandably disappointed that British citizens have voted to exit the EU, but also said the Government can take immediate and decisive steps to allay the concerns in farming and the agri-food sector about the implications of this vote.

He said: “The outcome of the UK vote has major implications for Irish agriculture and the agri-food sector.

"The Government must give a clear signal that the issues of importance to this sector, our trading relationship with the UK and Northern Ireland and and the EU budget, will be central to the EU-UK negotiations.

"Minimising uncertainty and setting out a clear strategy on the next steps is a priority.”

ICOS president Martin Keane said agri-food leaders and the Government must work to ensure the sector continues to grow, despite the UK referendum result.

“We are now facing two challenges. We must deal with immediate uncertainty in currency and other markets, and we must work to securing the best post-Brexit arrangements possible,” said Mr Keane.

“Central banks must bring stability to currency markets, and we all need to work with government and authorities in the transition period, which will last a number of years.”

The ICSA president, Patrick Kent, has said Europe needs to reflect carefully on what happens next and why it is the EU has failed to win the hearts of so many voters in the UK.

“The EU needs to reflect carefully on why the European project is out of step with so many citizens,” he said.

“The Irish Government can play a vital role as a broker between the EU and UK to help ensure the single market continues to include the UK, given the huge and unique dependence of Ireland on exports to the UK.

“Our Government needs to take a strong line with the EU Commission on the need to ensure that this decision does not create chaos for Irish agriculture.

"CAP supports are going to be more vital than ever and increasing the CAP budget needs to be considered, regardless of the loss of the UK net contribution.

"The negotiating strategy for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Mercosur trade deals needs a total reappraisal and probably now needs to take a back seat to getting the terms of trade with the UK right.”

He said the EU must draw back from any kneejerk move to punish the UK. The process now needs to be cordial and consensual; tariff barriers must not be considered, said he said.

“The EU should not see punishing the UK as the way to retain the loyalty of the other member states. Instead we need to have an open and honest dialogue about how to make the EU more attractive to all citizens,” said Mr Keane.

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