Any trade tariffs imposed on exports to the UK would be disastrous for Irish farming and food, ICMSA president John Comer has warned.
Speaking ahead of today’s all-island civic dialogue on Brexit, to be chaired in Dublin by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mr Comer said €5bn worth of Irish food goods are exported to UK markets in a trade that has been developed and maintained over decades if not centuries.
Mr Comer said: “An acrimonious Brexit that leaves Irish food and agri-exports to the UK subject to tariffs or any other additional charges would be an unmitigated disaster for Ireland’s €10bn farming and food sector.
“The Irish-UK bilateral trading relationship simply has to be safeguarded. The onus is squarely on the Irish Government to ensure other member states, with much weaker and smaller trade relationships with UK, must not be permitted to set the pace regarding the conditions under which the UK’s post-EU relationship are to be established.”
Mr Comer said it was difficult to imagine another situation where the term “vital national interest” was more justified; he urged all political parties and public representatives to “get on the same page” where this vital issue was concerned.
Meanwhile, ICSA president Patrick Kent has called for all trade deal negotiations to be frozen until such time as Brexit negotiations are concluded.
He said it was impossible to gauge the impacts on EU agri-food of any CETA trade deal between Canada and the EU until the nature of the EU/UK trading arrangements are clear.
“CETA will involve a quota for 50,000 tons of beef at a time when Irish farmers are seeing beef price in freefall. Given the uncertainty around Brexit, the last thing we need is more beef being imported,” said Mr Kent.
He said it was clear that the EU market does not have capacity to absorb any further beef imports which would lead to further downward pressure on price.
He added that CETA should be view a blueprint for a TTIP deal with the USA.
He said it beggared belief that the EU would press ahead with trade deals in such uncertain times.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved