The government is to publish a series of notes advising people and businesses how to protect themselves from the potential disruption of a "no deal" break with the European Union (EU). The notices are to cover farming, where the implications of a no deal scenario will have a major impact on agriculture. The EU is the UK's single largest trading partner in agriculture, food and forestry products. Losing the tariff free and frictionless market will have a huge impact on farming, particularly those farming sectors reliant on exports, such as beef and lamb, which depend on a free trade area for goods.
If the UK exits the EU on a "no-deal" basis, major concerns for farming will be:
- Loss of a tariff-free market. The UK will by default to revert to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules until Free Trade agreements are signed. This will require goods to be exported and imported under the Most Favoured Nation rules with a range of tariffs applied to those goods. The tariffs for animal products are amongst the highest in the range. Currently, a third of the lamb produced in Wales is exported to Europe.
- Avoiding friction at the border. It will be imperative when dealing with agricultural products that the UK maintains streamlined access and administration to the EU. The Common rule book for all goods will need to be agreed to facilitate agricultural trade, whilst at the same time securing plant and animal welfare. The EU has warned that increased border controls would mean transport between the UK and EU was "severely impacted", with the possibility of "significant delays".
- Loss of important source of labour to specific parts of the supply-chain, such as horticulture.
See: DEEU: UK government's preparations for a no deal scenario (23 August 2018).