NFU Cymru President John Davies has today reacted with dismay to the publication of the UK Government’s updated ‘No deal’ Brexit tariff regime, which confirms that it intends to go ahead with the full or partial removal of tariff safeguards for almost all of our key agricultural sectors in the event of a ‘No deal’ Brexit. Mr Davies said that the UK Government had ‘dealt a body blow to Welsh farmers, leaving them exposed to the full effects of competition from countries whose standards of production are often considerably lower than our own’
Mr Davies said: “A ‘No deal’ Brexit, once regarded as a remote and unlikely prospect, now looks like a very distinct and unwelcome possibility. Leaving the EU without a deal will mean that the current arrangement whereby goods are able to move freely around the EU will come to an abrupt end. Once the UK is a third country outside of the EU, WTO rules will oblige the EU27 to apply the same tariff rates to EU exports as it does to any other third country that it does not have a trade agreement with. At the same time the UK Government has chosen to start charging tariffs on goods coming into the UK from the EU and the rest of the world at far lower or even at zero tariff rates.
“Today’s announcement means that we now know for sure that in the event of a ‘No deal’ Brexit, Wales’ farmers will face an unbalanced arrangement from 1st November whereby our exports to the EU are hit with high tariffs, whilst goods coming in from the EU and the rest of the world are charged at a much lower rate. The majority of our key food products will have tariffs of up to 84%, while imports of agri-food products into the UK will incur far more modest tariffs, or indeed no tariffs at all.
“Without the maintenance of tariff protections, the door is now open for goods produced to standards which would be illegal in this country, to flood our markets and put our own farmers out of business.”
Mr Davies concluded: “Since the proposed tariff rates were first published back in March, NFU Cymru has been lobbying intensively for the UK Government to revisit these tariff rates as a matter of urgency. That has included writing to the Prime Minister, the Defra Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns. I am deeply disappointed by today’s announcement, which confirms that our extensive representation to UK Government on this issue have fallen on deaf ears. There is a growing sense of anger out there at the failure of the UK Government to act and help mitigate the hugely damaging effect a ‘No deal’ Brexit will have on the agricultural sector.”