No-deal Brexit in October would be "calamitous", says HCC
The uncertainty regarding Brexit is still looming and there is a serious threat of a chaotic withdrawal from the European Union believes Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Chief Executive Gwyn Howells.
The parts involved in the negotiations have not reached yet a compromise on Brexit and the trade relations after that and that threatens the red meat industry in the UK, especially the one in Wales.
Exports to Europe of Welsh Lamb, in particular, reach a peak in late autumn. Therefore, disruption caused by the sudden imposition of WTO-level tariffs, which on lamb and beef equate to between 40% and 90%, would cause immediate severe disruption for farmers and food businesses in Wales, warns HCC.
"The potential impact of a chaotic no-deal Brexit in March was serious for our industry, but the effect of a similar scenario in October could be calamitous. This is just the time when many lambs, particularly from the hill sector, are coming onto the market", warns Gwyn Howells.
Over the whole year in 2018, lamb and beef exports were worth £187.6 million to the Welsh economy. But a significant proportion of those exports are seasonal, being concentrated in the September to December period.
During the first week of November 2018, an estimated 37,000 lamb carcases from Wales were exported to the EU. Over a third of Welsh Lamb and around an eighth of Welsh Beef production is exported overseas, with the 27 remaining countries of the EU being the destination for over 90% of the trade.
"HCC has worked hard in recent years alongside partners in government to obtain access to new markets, with notable successes in Asia and the Middle East. But it’s completely unrealistic to expect this business to replace a sudden interruption in our trade with our near neighbours in Europe, which is what WTO Tariffs would entail. The potential impact of No-Deal is extremely serious, on farmers’ livelihoods and the viability of the food processing sector which employs thousands of people in Wales," added Howells.