Joan McAlpine MSP has raised concerns about the impact of a no deal Brexit on the dairy sector in Dumfries and Galloway after expert trade negotiators told her that incoming tariffs on dairy products would be scrapped if an agreement could not be reached.
The shocking revelations were made to the MSP during a meeting of the parliamentary committee she convenes. The UK government made the decision to drop incoming tariffs in the event of “no deal” without apparent consultation with the industry – tariffs will still apply to Scottish farmers and producers exporting to the EU.
Currently, EU Most Favoured Nation Dairy Tariffs are on average 72.3% for dairy products. In the event of a no deal scenario the UK Government is proposing to drop that to 0% but with no guarantee the EU will reciprocate.
Dmitry Grozoubinski a Former Australian WTO trade negotiator told the Culture Tourism Europe and External Affairs Committee that the decision to drop some tariffs unilaterally, in order to avoid shortages, had come as a surprise and suggested that the UK government had not considered the effect on communities reliant on the jobs provided by the industry.
“It is entirely possible that, without adequate consultation and feed-in, dairy was not deliberately ignored but just never rose up as an issue. “
Joan said after the committee meeting:
“It is deeply concerning that there appears to have been so little consultation by the UK Government. In the event of a no deal Brexit all sectors and nations of the UK will be massively impacted but if, as appears to be the case, the tariffs set by the UK government ignore entire sectors of the economy then this could be even worse than we feared.
“Not only is this deeply concerning as we face the imminent threat of a no deal but it is also deeply worrying for the future. We need to have systems in place that allow all companies, sectors, and the governments of the devolved administration to contribute towards developing trade policy. That is the only way we can develop a trading policy that will work for all sectors of our economy. By unilaterally scrapping the tariffs in advance, the UK government weakens its negotiating position when it tries to make deals in future – it’s already given everything away!
“This just emphasise that a no deal Brexit will be disastrous for the dairy sector in the south of Scotland. We need to see both the Conservative and Labour party take the only concrete action possible to remove this threat and support the revocation of article 50.”
EU Most Favoured Nation Dairy Tariffs are on average 72.3% and the UK Government is proposing to drop that to 0%. Source:
What should we make of the UK’s ‘No Deal’ tariffs? By Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex. Both are fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory (14 March 2019).
The full exchange in committee can be found here: