November 3, 2020
“Dairy Sector Brexit disaster can be avoided with urgent action” – Chris MacManus MEP

“Dairy Sector Brexit disaster can be avoided with urgent action” – Chris MacManus MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus has expressed concern at news emerging in recent days that the all island economy will not be protected by a Brexit deal.

The Midlands Northwest MEP believes that the dairy sector is one of many sectors that will suffer significant disruption if protective measures are not put in place urgently. 

MacManus said: 

“As we enter the final days of Brexit talks, it appears that issues unique to Ireland are falling by the wayside, viewed as too contentious, therefore posing a risk of derailing the bigger issues. The most important of these is the future of the all island economy.”

“The current deal would not allow an exported product to be partly produced in the north and partly produced in the south. The rules of origins terms in many trade deals would only allow a product produced completely within the EU, ie the south, to benefit from tariff free exports.” 

“What this means is any dairy product brought from the north to the south for processing and export would not be eligible for tariff free export, to many countries who have trade agreements with the EU. This would be a complete disaster for the dairy sector.”

“Dairy accounts for 45% of those product components which cross the border to be added to products eventually going overseas. A third of the raw milk produced in the north is moved south for further processing. A significant proportion then goes on for export. Overall, one fifth of the milk processed in the south comes from the north. The whiskey production sector would also be heavily affected as one quarter of all Irish whiskey contains ingredients from both sides of the border.”  

MacManus called on the government to step up their efforts. “In the short-term, the Irish Government must double its efforts to secure a commitment from the EU that a solution will be found to avert this cliff edge for the diary sector.”

“This may involve talks with the EU’s trade partners, about making small changes to the rules of origin conditions in trade deals. Such an amendment is unlikely to have any destabilising effect on the deal, as it is simply a continuation of what is happening now.” 

MacManus concluded by calling for a more focused emphasis on an all island strategy and highlighted the need for a unity referendum. “A key principle for the EU, in the last two years of negotiations, has been protection of the Good Friday Agreement. This must extend to the all island economy. 

“As an Irish republican, I would argue this is another reason why the only sensible solution for the island of Ireland is unity, anything less will continue to have a negative impact on the futures of people on both sides of the border.

“Sinn Féin believes this discussion needs to start now, it does not make any sense to await the outcome of Brexit, when it is already abundantly clear the outlook is overwhelmingly bad. We believe the economic gains from building a shared island are quantifiable, and it would guarantee us a prosperous future.  I call on the Irish Government to end its wait and see policy; it must start planning now.” ENDS

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