'Massive ramifications' of United Kingdom tariff plans need to be known

Cornelia Mascio
Marzo 14, 2019

United Kingdom tariffs imposed on goods from Ireland would "drive down prices and hit producers" in Northern Ireland, it warned.

"Whatever happens next it's clear that an extension to Article 50 is required, which the United Kingdom government and the European Union should agree as soon as possible", said Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. On Tuesday, parliament inflicted a second heavy defeat on the exit deal negotiated by London and Brussels. These tariffs would apply for "up to 12 months". Beef exporters may get improved access to Britain by having both a country-specific quota and also the option to use a new general quota, where Australian farmers would compete with other countries' producers.

The government announced the temporary measures, which it hopes would soften the immediate impact of a no-deal Brexit, as lawmakers prepared to vote on Wednesday on whether Britain should leave the European Union without any transition agreement. The proportion that would be tariff-free would fall from 100 percent to just above 80 percent.

Aluminum, steel, machinery, arms and ammunition, footwear, paper and wood products would be exempt from tariffs.

However, protections are to be kept for certain industries such as auto manufacturing, farming and ceramics. McEntee said she agreed with the head of the Irish Farmers' Association that the tariffs flagged on beef and dairy products would be "absolutely disastrous" for Ireland's agriculture sector.

The TD for Donegal has called on the Government to publish figures estimating the likely impact of the planned tariffs and to put a response plan in place to deal with them.

The statement said: "To protect human, animal and plant health, animals and animal products from countries outside the EU would need to enter Northern Ireland through a designated entry point, regulated plant material from outside the EU and high risk EU plant material will require certification and pre-notification before arriving in the UK". But they disagree on the "backstop", or insurance mechanism, to exclude such border checks.

"It is a temporary measure, this is for a short term while we engage with business and we see what the real term consequences are", he told BBC radio. Trade experts say the measures may be tolerated as an emergency measure, despite nearly certainly breaching World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

The Government insists that this will not create a border down the Irish Sea, as there will be no checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

"These reductions are essential to ensure prices do not skyrocket after applying duties to European Union imports which are now tariff-free", he added.

Officials acknowledge that this means the system could be vulnerable to abuse. He argued that businesses may not comply with new legal obligations in a no-deal scenario "leading to the likelihood of a step change in the scale and significance of smuggling and organised crime".

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