One year after Brexit, threats outweigh agricultural opportunities
Commenting on today’s anniversary of the signing of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (ACT), NFU Scotland said that while the agreement had ushered in a new era of tariff-free and quota-free trade between the UK and the EU, it had turned out to be far from “frictionless”.
The union said it will continue to press the UK government to introduce appropriate border control inspections on products entering the UK from the EU, which meet the same high standards as those which UK exporters should adhere to when sending goods and products to the continent.
“The Northern Ireland Protocol is also hurting trade between Scotland and Northern Ireland,” said union policy director Jonnie Hall.
He said the need to address the costly impact of permanent and seasonal labor shortages across the entire food and drink chain – which has also been exacerbated by Brexit – also remains a priority. for Scotland.
“Likewise, after a year, high-value, high-health Scottish seed potatoes remain excluded from valuable European markets.
“Trade with the EU in the first 12 months of Brexit has been far from smooth,” Hall said.
‘Frictions over border checks for Scottish producers exporting to the EU have, however, been compounded by the UK government continuing to grant’ grace periods’ to imports from the EU from similar controls.
“This ‘asymmetric’ trade continues and is a damaging consequence of the UK’s lack of practical Brexit preparation.
“Add in issues regarding specific commodities, such as seed potatoes, and specific issues such as the Northern Ireland Protocol and it is clear that post-Brexit trade with the EU remains difficult at best and potentially damaging for some. “
And he said the exit from the EU and the single market and the loss of the free movement of labor created problems in production, harvesting and the supply chain, especially in the sectors. fruits and vegetables, in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, and on pigs, poultry and dairy products. farms, none of which had been helped by problems with the seasonal worker pilot program.
“Closer to home, the full implications of the UK Internal Market Act and the UK Subsidy Control Bill are not yet known in terms of the level of the UK Single Market.
“Trade with other parts of the UK remains by far the most important outlet for Scottish products. “
Hall also scrapped free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand, which he says cast a very dark shadow over British and Scottish agriculture.
“It remains disappointing that as we approach 2022 there are so many unknowns about Brexit remaining. As it stands, the potential threats to Scottish agriculture continue to far outweigh the potential opportunities. “
But he said lobbying efforts would continue in Westminster to get more engagement for the sector from the UK government.