Published: Tue, 08 December 2020
“Brexit has been a long and drawn out process, and has been emotionally draining, but while the saga draws to its clumsy conclusion – the effects and the realities of our new relationship with the UK will be evident from January 1 onwards”, warned Seán Kelly MEP and leader of Fine Gael in the EU Parliament, while urging Irish exporters to seize opportunities in South East Asia.
“Every business on the island of Ireland will have to adapt to this new reality, but no country or sector is going to be as exposed as the Irish agri-food sector, simply because the UK is our single most important market for agri-food exports.
“One-third of our agri-food exports, around €5 billion worth, goes to the UK, and Ireland in return imports €4 billion worth of food from the UK. This reciprocal premium market access has been mutually beneficial but the imposition of tariffs or regulatory barriers on food safety could have dramatic effects on the Irish agri-food sector, especially as the UK market is one of the highest value markets for food in the world”, MEP Kelly, a Member of the Parliament’s Trade Committee said.
The Ireland South MEP is insisting that the Irish agri-food sector will need more EU support post-Brexit: “We must give the agri-food sector and our farmers the support they need to weather the storm, most notably in the short to medium term, and that in includes significant access to the EU’s Brexit fund.
However, a longer-term plan must include more diversification into growing international markets, according to Kelly: “If producers face tariffs into UK markets, the option of diversifying milk into other products should be utilised, as we are able to produce milk at commodity prices on the international market at a competitive rates.
“In this respect, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) markets represent huge potential for Irish dairy products. Indeed, Ireland already has a significant market share, catering for almost half of the overall exports to the ASEAN countries. The region is one of the fastest growing the world and has a rapidly expanding middle class – meaning there is still massive growth potential in these markets. Post-Brexit, it is important that we continue to seize all opportunities for Irish exports”, he underlined.
The 11 ASEAN countries are: Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar/Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.