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Union Disappointment at Customs Union Statement

NFU Scotland is disappointed that the UK Government has again ruled out continued membership of the EU customs union without setting out an alternative or recognising what this will mean for food and farming in the UK.

Commenting on the UK Government comment that it will not be ‘staying in’ or ‘joining’ a customs union, NFU Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker said: “Trade with Europe is important to us, as are the trade agreements that Europe already has in place with countries around the world.

“Continued membership of the customs union would allow us to keep frictionless free trade with Europe while allowing us access to important world markets on terms that recognise the importance of maintaining domestic food production.

“Australia, New Zealand and the USA are all countries that the UK Government has indicated as post-Brexit target markets for free trade agreements and all will wish increased market access for their food producers on their terms. Farming in this country must not be sold out for an ideological view.

“While today’s statement wasn’t a surprise, it was an opportunity for the UK Government to take a more proactive approach in recognition of its ongoing consultation with industry – they have chosen not to do so.

“We remain adamant that any Brexit outcome that results in the UK importing cheaper food would be hugely damaging to the farming, food and drinks sectors of Scotland and the UK. Sucking in food imports also means exporting jobs and incomes in the domestic farming and food supply chain, as well as animal welfare and environmental responsibilities beyond our shores.

“Food production and consumption should never be based on price alone, but also provenance, quality and exacting standards.”

Speaking from Brussels, where he is attending EU-wide discussions on beef, the Union’s Livestock Committee Chair Charlie Adam said: “The Livestock Committee wants to see future trading arrangements as close to the current arrangements as possible post-Brexit. Leaving the customs union could open us up to lower standard imports, such as hormone-treated beef, if the UK decided to diverge from existing EU trade restrictions. These are restrictions which the EU single market can maintain because of its size and market unity.

“It’s clear that any option other than a customs union could see the imposition of non-tariff barriers, such as border checks, and these could be severely detrimental to the trade of fresh food.

“The UK Government hasn’t yet demonstrated any new market opportunities for beef and lamb produced in the UK to replace any trade lost with the European Union. Without that, the customs union is an option for frictionless trade which must remain on the table.”  

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 58/18


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