by Gareth Parry, FUW Policy Communications Officer
1652 days since the Brexit referendum vote in June 2016, Brexit-day will have finally passed by the time this paper arrives on your doorstep, but somewhat unsurprisingly, it remains anyone’s guess as to what we will come out with on the other side.
UK and EU producers, businesses and exporters were awaiting some sense of direction from the negotiations as we went to print. Nevertheless, the FUW Webinar: What do Welsh farmers need to know from 1st January 2021 held on December 17 cast light on many of the latest developments – as well as concerns – and the fact that it was attended by more than 100 members highlights the concerns of farmers about what will happen in 2021. If you missed it, it can be re-watched on the Members’ Section of the FUW Website.
With the end of the year fast approaching and the option of extending trade talks running out, it looks extremely likely that it will go down to the wire and that in actual fact, you will have the privilege of knowing more than me at the time of reading this.
On numerous occasions since the referendum and more recently in particular,
the FUW has warned how the failure by the UK and EU to reach a trade deal before the end of year will be catastrophic for industries and communities in Wales and across the UK.
Given that Wales’ food and drink supply chain plays an integral role to the Welsh economy, employing more than 240,000 people in industries with a combined turnover of more than £22 billion, and that 73% of all Welsh food and drink exports are destined for the EU including the majority of exports of red meat and dairy products worth an estimated £320 million to Wales, a no deal scenario should be avoided at all costs – and if, by the time you are reading this, we have pulled out without a deal, there is every reason for negotiations to be restarted as soon as possible.
Deal or no-deal, industries are preparing to face major challenges from non-tariff barriers at borders to additional costs for agricultural exports, practical implications to the flow of goods and labour shortages in the food manufacturing sector.
Furthermore, depending on the outcome of current negotiations, the UK will likely be trading on third country terms, meaning new rules, some of which are outlined on pages 12 and 13.