The NPA has welcomed a deal announced today on a 21-month transition period after we leave the EU.
The transitional period, agreed between Brexit Secretary David Davis and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, is set to last from March 29, 2019 to December 2020. The transition deal will ensure many current arrangements between the UK and EU remain in place immediately after we leave the EU.
But the UK will also be able to negotiate and sign trade deals during the transition period.
The agreement covers the rights of 4.5m EU citizens in the UK and the 1.2m UK citizens in the EU after Brexit, including giving EU citizens arriving in the UK during the transition the same rights and guarantees as those who arrive before Brexit, the BBC reports.
Both sides hope the terms of an agreement will be signed off by EU leaders at the EU summit this week.
NPA senior policy advisor Ed Barker said: “We welcome the agreement because it avoids a cliff edge scenario, which would have proved very damaging for thousands of UK pig businesses.
“It gives some kind of consistency and continuity for our import and export trade in goods and no tie-consuming and costly checks at the border during this period. It also ensures there will be no immediate issues around carcase balance when we leave the EU in just over a year from now.
“Clearly, this agreement is only buying all parties more time – what follows the transition will be fundamental to the sector’s future. We look forward to working with Government in developing ambitious new trade agreements during the transition, building on the successes of the pig industry in exporting beyond the EU.
“We note that Article 50 still has to be agreed in full before this can be assured and that the position of the Irish border and trade in goods has still not been clarified.
“We would also caution whether 21 months is enough time to have all the machinery of post-Brexit administration in place, given that there is no sunset clause. We must now collectively work as an industry to ensure that we are not simply deferring the cliff edge scenario for a further 21 months.”
NFU President Minette Batters said: “Today’s announcement helps to have a bit more certainty for our farming businesses although clarity on the details is key. There is still outstanding vital information which food and farming businesses need to understand.
“It’s vital that there is a smooth transitional period for the farming industry, avoiding any cliff-edge scenario. This is best achieved by retaining membership of the EU Customs Union until a settled free trade relationship comes into force. The industry needs continuity after the date of withdrawal to ensure that farmers can continue to produce safe, traceable and affordable food and provide other environmental and economic benefits for the nation.
“The NFU has long called for frictionless trade with the EU, free of tariffs and non-tariff barriers. As our largest trading partner – over 70% of our exports of food and non-alcoholic drinks being sent to EU markets – access to the EU must be a top priority.”