The president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), John Comer, has welcomed agreement on phase one of the Brexit negotiations, including the border issue.

Reacting to the news of “no hard border” with Northern Ireland, in particular the president welcomed “what is now almost a certainty” that trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland will continue post-Brexit as it is currently structured.

Given the level of integration in the agri-food sectors north and south at producer, processing and marketing level, a hard border would have been a disaster particularly for border regions, Comer noted.

The president added that it is positive that common sense appears to have prevailed on this matter and that players in the agri-food sector can now make plans with a higher degree of certainty.

“Quite clearly, from the agri-food sector perspective, many challenges remain – in particular the trading arrangement between the EU and the UK going forward and the need for zero tariffs and non-tariff barriers, an agreed transitionary period to the post-Brexit scenario and the €3 billion deficit that will arise in the Common Agricultural Policy post-Brexit which simply will have to be at least bridged by the EU 27,” the president warned.

The announcement today is certainly positive, but there remains many outstanding issues which hopefully will be dealt with in a similar ‘common sense’ approach in phase two of the negotiations and beyond, Comer concluded.