EU agri committee ‘agreement’ aims to avoid flooding market with New Zealand lamb

As the Brexit vote in the UK is imminent, MEP for the midlands north-west region Matt Carthy has warned of the dangers posed by World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs and in particular Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) on agricultural produce entering the EU and destined for the UK market.

Tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday, January 16), MEPs on the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament will vote to formally endorse a new agreement on TRQs that will protect EU member states from having to deal with a market that could become “flooded” with produce in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Meanwhile, the vote in the UK House of Commons on the withdrawal agreement is due to take place this evening (Tuesday, January 15).

It is anticipated that it will be defeated. This would increase the chances of Britain leaving the EU on March 29 without any type of trading arrangement. This would subsequently result in WTO tariffs being implemented on goods being exported to Britain.

EU vote

Tomorrow’s vote is unlikely to be contested and is being formally ratified over fears that the EU market will become flooded with non-EU agricultural produce in the case where a no-deal Brexit emerges.

“At the moment, for example, the EU currently has an agreement to accept almost 230,000t of sheep-meat from New Zealand at a fixed tariff,” the north-west MEP told Agriland.

Although the agreement to accept this meat is between the EU and New Zealand, the vast majority of this fixed annual tonnage currently goes to British markets. Now that Britain is leaving the EU, this and hundreds of other TRQs have to be divided between them and the remaining EU member states.

Carthy went on to say that 90% of that lamb was destined for the UK market and, therefore, it was imperative the trade deal continued so the EU market did not become flooded with the New Zealand produce.

“Trade is going to be the most sensitive aspect of the post-Brexit world for farmers who will need to secure new markets for products, but crucially will need to protect their current markets. This is a positive development but we do need to remain vigilant.”