Preparing for Brexit

The potential impact of Brexit on the red meat sector in Wales is extensive, and has been the subject of much media discussion.

HCC believes that the industry can thrive if free and unfettered trade is allowed to continue to our crucial export markets for Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.

HCC has worked with AHDB and others to model potential effects on agriculture and processing, and published a Horizon report which outlines some possibilities. Although - it's difficult to model with certainty.

The situation if there is a Withdrawal Agreement

There is currently no certainty that the UK will leave the European Union with an agreement. If there is a withdrawal agreement, it's likely that current trading conditions (or a situation close to them) will be in place for a period of over 18 months, as inter-governmental negotiations proceed on the long-term trading arrangements between the UK and EU.

The situation if there is no agreement

If there is no agreement (No-Deal Brexit), then many of the trade conditions that have pertained for the last number of years will cease to operate.

It's very likely there will be charges levied on exports from the UK by other countries, according to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. WTO tariffs are particularly high on meat as compared to other goods: 40-80% on lamb and 50-90% on beef, depending on the type of processing and cut. Tariffs are also likely to apply on exports to third countries where the UK can currently export to tariff-free as part of EU trade deals.

On imports, the UK Government has published a schedule of the tariffs that would apply in the case of no-deal. Under WTO rules, these tariffs would apply to all imports equally, regardless of which country they originated. These tariffs are a temporary measure for up to 12 months, and would be reviewed.

Lamb: Full WTO Tariffs (40-80%) would be imposed. However, some countries (e.g. New Zealand and Australia) have agreements to export a certain amount to the UK / EU on 0% Tariffs (Tariff Rate Quota or TRQ), and would be excluded from UK tariffs.

Beef: The UK Government has announced that in a No-Deal scenario, around 230,000 tonnes of beef could come into the country Tariff-free, and another 55,000 tonnes could come under existing quota arrangements at a 20% Tariff (for context, the UK currently imports about 380,00 tonnes annually). On anything over and above this figure the UK would impose just over half (53%) of the relevant WTO Tariff on beef imports. A cut of beef on which the relevant WTO tariff is 60%, for instance, would attract a tariff of just over 30% when imported into the UK.

Pork: The UK Government would impose a tariff significantly lower (13%) of the relevant WTO Tariff on pork imports.

Practical changes

Also, particularly in the case of a no-deal Brexit, it's likely there will be changes in regulations, labelling and export paperwork. Advice on these aspects is available from the UK and Welsh Governments, and other bodies:

- Welsh Government advice on preparing for 'No Deal' Brexit

- Welsh Government Business Wales 'Brexit Portal'

- FSA guidance for food and animal feed businesses

- Senedd Research document on Preparing for Brexit

- DEFRA guidance on Food Labelling Changes

- DEFRA guidance on Protected Food Names (including PGI)

- UK Government update on exporting to third countries

- Information from the customs service of France, our largest trading partner (in English)