May 29, 2023

EU-UK trade war would ‘decimate’ local farming and food sectors – Kilkenny councillor

LOCAL businesses, farmers and food production companies must be given supports in the event of a trade war between the EU and the UK, a local politician has warned.

Cllr Patrick O’Neill was speaking after the latest twist in the ongoing Brexit drama, which has brought even more confusion and uncertainty about the future direction of talks aimed at averting a hard or no-deal scenario.

Yesterday the UK announced that, in the event of a disorderly Brexit, it would slap tariffs on beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy imported from the EU, including Ireland. This move would result in retaliatory measures by the EU, with levies imposed on UK foodstuffs coming into EU markets.

Cllr O’Neill (pictured below) today warned local businesses and farmers who are most vulnerable in the event of a trade war must be given financial supports, a move Taoiseach Leo Varadkar earlier indicated he would pursue in a worst-case scenario.

Cllr O’Neill, who was recently announced as a Fine Gael General Election candidate for the Kilkenny-Carlow constituency, told “The release yesterday of the UK Tariffs in a no deal situation only goes to show how detrimental a no deal Brexit will be for Irish agriculture. Yesterday’s events in the House of Commons give no certainty as to what is ahead with Brexit and is continuing have a negative effect on prices for Irish farmers.

“I welcome the Taoiseach’s comments in stating that there will be government supports for businesses, farmers and fishermen if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal on March 29. Without that support these sectors face being decimated while a trade war takes place between the UK and the EU.”

Ireland’s EU Commissioner, the former Kilkenny TD Phil Hogan, has also hit out at the British Government’s no-deal tariffs regime, which he said “beggars belief”.

He told RTÉ the tariff regime was “ill thought-out” and an attempt to “try to break the European Union unity” and to frighten Ireland. He also described the tariff regime as “draconian”.

“We don’t even know if it’s legal, if it’s compatible with the World Trade Organisation rules,” he added.

Commissioner Hogan insisted the EU is very solid in terms of its unity. And he said the EU stands ready to help Irish beef farmers in the event of a no-deal.

“Hopefully at some stage in the coming weeks, the UK will come to reason and not abandon its own consumers who want to see high-quality European products. They want to continue eating good-quality Irish beef,” he said.

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