The agreed trade deal between the UK and Australia sets a perilous precedent and is very concerning for Irish beef farmers, IFA president Tim Cullinan has said.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Australian PM Scott Morrison are reported to have agreed the deal over dinner at Downing Street on Monday evening.
“Apart from the extra checks that will apply following the trade agreement reached last December, the threat to our markets is the biggest fallout for Irish farmers from the [Brexit] vote nearly five years ago,” Cullinan said.
“It’s precisely the dangerous scenario that we have signalled following the Brexit vote in June 2016. Trade deals between the UK and third countries have the potential to undermine what is a very important market for our beef exports.”
The presidents of the IFA and NFU are set to hold a bilateral meeting on Thursday to discuss the implications of the deal.
Cullinan said he supported the National Farmers Union (NFU) in highlighting their concerns about the standards that apply to imports from third countries.
“We have worked closely with the NFU since the Brexit vote nearly five years ago. Farmers here and in the UK are committed to the highest standards and we are opposed to any trade deal that gives an opening to sub-standard food imports," Cullinan continued.
“Total beef exports last year were €1.9bn, with 44% going to the UK market. It’s our most valuable market, in terms of volume and price. Any loss of shelf space would be very damaging for our livestock farmers, who are in a low-income sector.”