Representatives from the UK farming unions and the IFA met recently in Belfast, with Brexit and its implications on traded being the centre of discussions.
It was agreed by organisers that free trade is vitally important and as is the maintenance of said free trade between The EU and The UK after Brexit. They agreed that this must include a soft border between the North and Republic.
As these trade links are vital not only to our agricultural sector but our economy as a whole, these discussions held great importance to our future.
Angus Woods, of the IFA, said politicians must take this into consideration during Brexit negotiations. “Over 50 per cent of Irish beef exports are marketed in the UK and nearly 40 per cent of the UK’s beef exports go to ROI”.
The IFA’s National Livestock Chairman said of the discussions The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has brought into focus many issues for the cattle and sheep sector in Ireland and the UK. Our countries have strong trade links for both livestock and red meat products and it will be essential that we have a free trade agreement in order to secure a healthy future for these vulnerable sectors.”
Existing trade links between Ireland and the UK are well established and play a vital role in each economy. Angus Woods said politicians must take this into consideration during Brexit negotiations. “Over 50 per cent of Irish beef exports are marketed in the UK and nearly 40 per cent of the UK’s beef exports go to ROI.
Mr Woods also looked to the sheep trade between countries, pointing out the high volume of cross over trade between the UK, Ireland and the EU. This he feels makes Brexit discussions on free trade even more important. He said“In terms of sheep, the fact that over 40 per cent of Northern Ireland’s lambs are processed in the Republic of Ireland and 90 per cent of the UK’s lamb exports are destined for the European market shows that there is a lot hanging on achieving a progressive free trade arrangement.
Upon conclusion of the discussions the organisations agreed that if there is any chance of achieving free trade that equivalent standards for agricultural practices and processing must be in place. Angus Woods backed this up by stating “The existing standards that are in place will give us a solid foundation to work from and help ease the negotiating process. The Irish and UK farming organisations are committed to finding practical solutions that allow for the harmonious trade of livestock and red meat products between the UK and the EU to continue post-Brexit,”.