The UK’s post-Brexit agriculture and food policy is a matter of considerable interest to the EU27, which supplies about 70% of UK food imports. Thus, the questions of the future level of access to the UK market, and the levels of return from the UK market, are very relevant to the EU27.
Ireland, meanwhile, has a particular interest in future UK agriculture policy. Close to 41% of Ireland’s agri-food exports currently go to the UK, valued at €5.6bn in 2018, and ranging across all the main sectors, headed by beef, dairy products and prepared foods.
The purpose of this paper is to outline the available information on future UK policy on agriculture and food, and to seek to draw some broad conclusions as regards the implications for future UK food production, and for the export prospects for the EU, and particularly for Ireland, in the UK market.
It is found that Ireland’s agri-food sector is vulnerable on three fronts from the UK withdrawal: (i) to new tariffs or regulatory barriers on our exports to the UK, (ii) to any loss in the return in price terms from the UK market, and (iii) to the imposition of a hard border within the island of Ireland.
The author, Con Lucey, was Chief Economist of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) from 1979 to 2008. He was a Council member of the IIEA for many years, and is a member of the IIEA’s UK expert group.
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