Ensuring open trade for our exports will be a huge challenge in the Brexit negotiations, particularly for the agricultural sector.
The rules and practicalities surrounding trade will matter even more than tariffs, especially for agriculture, making a sizeable issue for the Government to tackle during the Brexit negotiations, says Jeremy Moody, Secretary and Adviser to the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV). “If the UK is outside the EU customs union, one key issue will be the mutual recognition of standards alongside the practicality of customs controls.”
With around 70% of the UK’s agricultural exports going to the EU, the outcome of trade negotiations will affect agricultural values and profitability more than other sectors, he warns. “Will UK produce be accepted as meeting EU requirements without detailed checking? How will we show traceability of grain if the EU bans glyphosate and the UK does not? Will UK abattoirs be accepted as automatically meeting EU requirements for meat being exported? How long will it take to get a consignment through customs and on what procedures?” These are just some of the questions that will need addressing.
“This is also relevant to our position on imports, whether for livestock feed or food more generally,” says Mr Moody. “In the UK, what are the politics of tariffs on imported food likely to be?” Charges on grain imports were abolished in 1846 and with a cheap food policy, VAT has been kept off food.
“For both imports and exports, much will need clarification. Our future trade arrangements are key to the fortunes of UK agriculture post-Brexit. The Government has a lot to handle carefully in the coming months and years.”
Further to this, standards, tariffs and access to our market will be major points in future trade agreements, whether with the US and Australia, or with developing countries, adds Mr Moody. “Negotiations with the EU will just be the first step, as the UK will have to adapt to agreeing trade deals as an independent state.
“Having accessible markets for produce is going to be even more important for farm businesses than issues over support payments.”