NFU Cymru responds to Prime Minister's speech
NFU Cymru has today responded to the Prime Minister’s speech which confirms the UK Government’s intention to depart both the Single Market and the Customs Union.
Reacting to the news NFU Cymru President, Mr Stephen James, said: “Today’s announcement brings some clarity as to the sort of trading environment that we might be able to expect to be operating in post-Brexit. Whilst clarity on the direction of travel is to be welcomed, I think today’s announcement will be of concern to many Welsh farmers, who are so heavily dependent on export markets, and in particular EU export markets. With over a third of the Welsh lamb crop going to the EU and around 90% of food and drink exports being sent to the EU, there can be no mistake about how important these markets are to us.
“During the course of our recent Brexit consultation with members it became clear that one of the top priorities for our members was that our access to European markets should not be fettered by tariffs or non-tariff barriers, we do not want there to be barriers to being able to access the EU market. With the UK’s ongoing participation in the Single Market and the Customs Union off the agenda, it means that as a country we will need to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU if we are to avoid tariffs on our exports to the EU. My anxieties about today’s proposals are two-fold. Firstly, a free-trade agreement with the EU will of course need to include agricultural produce, and secondly, how long such a deal might take to conclude.
“In the absence of a quick and comprehensive free-trade agreement, it is vital that there are phased arrangements to avoid the sort of cliff edge that would be extremely disruptive to Wales’ farmers.
“The need for a reliable workforce from overseas is something else that has come up in discussions with members, especially in the context of Wales’ food processing sector. I welcome today’s acknowledgement by the Prime Minister that access to a reliable workforce is vital for so many industries.”