The Irish Dairy Industries Association (IDIA), the Ibec group that represents the dairy sector, today called for the sector to be a key priority for the Irish Government in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.
Speaking after the triggering of Article 50, Irish Dairy Industries Association Director, Conor Mulvihill, said: "Irish diary is the fastest growing agri-food industry in the EU and provides much needed jobs right across rural Ireland. It is a global leader in specialised nutrition in the sports, wellness, and infant sector. Brexit, however, poses and clear and present threat to this success".
"Disruption to trade between Ireland and the UK has already begun, due to currency pressures. Already this year 10,000 tones less of cheddar have been delivered to the UK by Irish companies, compared to this time last year."
To safeguard diary supply chains and the flow of dairy products into the future, IDIA said the Brexit negotiations must:
- Deliver free and unfettered access to the UK market for Ireland
- Take account of the special case of the all-island economy, and ensure that highly integrated supply chains can continue to operate with free movement of goods and services
- Include transitional arrangements, of sufficient length for businesses to plan and prepare for any new free trade agreement
- Ensure the issue of customs procedures is dealt with as part of the first phase of Article 50 negotiations.
IDIA warned against the danger of no new trade deal and a default to WTO trade terms. " WTO tariffs are set at a punitive €1,671 a tonne for cheddar cheese. This would amount to an additional €130 million minimum a year in costs for Irish exporting companies. A WTO tariff cliff edge would be disastrous for the industry, as the UK represents the only viable market for Irish cheddar.
“Supply chains between Ireland and the UK are deeply integrated, with strong north/south and east/west ties on these islands, which have been built up over generations. The imposition of a hard border would fracture the milk pool here, and would cause untold problems for our hard fought international reputation as a global leader in this sector. It is essential that our Government acts now to maintain certainty and clarity over regulations, rules of origin, and food safety for Irish dairy products."