‘Brief respite’ from Brexit instability must be used – ICSA

The ‘respite’ from Brexit instability provided by the withdrawal agreement must be used to achieve a trade deal between the UK and EU, and to solve the issue of funding for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), according to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

The withdrawal agreement will come into effect from 11:00pm tonight (Irish time), the moment that the UK leaves the EU.

Edmond Phelan, the ICSA president, said that the temporary stability should also lead to upward movement on beef prices.

Factories will have nowhere to hide in 2020 in citing instability which was repeatedly used as a reason for low beef prices over the last three years.

“There will be less reason for cold storage facilities to be packed out; sterling is likely to be more stable in the short-term and separate from all of this is the fact that beef price in North and South America is likely to remain strong in 2020,” Phelan added.

The ICSA president warned, however, that any positive price movement should not “detract from the urgency of getting an EU/UK trade deal across the line”.

“Continued tariff-free access to the UK for Irish exports, such as beef, remains the key objective. The UK’s self-imposed deadline of December 2020 sets a highly challenging target which will be difficult to meet,” Phelan remarked.

Nonetheless, it is incumbent on both sides to deliver a working solution to the challenge of maintaining tariff-free trade.

With a General Election right around the corner, Phelan said that an incoming government “will have to hit the ground running on this to ensure that the interests of Irish beef farming are kept centre-stage at all times”.

He concluded: “The other Brexit related issue is the urgency of agreeing a budget for the EU, and the next Taoiseach must priorities getting an agreement with other EU leaders for a fully funded CAP with provisions made to close the gap caused by the loss of the UK’s net contribution.”

Brexit day

The UK will formally exit the EU at 11:00pm (Irish time) tonight, Friday, January 31, following the decision yesterday of the European Council to back the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

The council’s decision followed a vote in the European Parliament on Wednesday to ratify the agreement. This itself followed on from a vote in the UK’s House of Commons on January 23 to ratify the long-troubled withdrawal agreement.

With the withdrawal agreement in place, trade with the UK will remain much the same as it is now during the coming ‘transitional period’.