UK tariffs on agriculture would damage Irish economy, says Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit he would be hoping for more support for business from the EU. Picture by Mark Marlow
Michelle Devane, Press Association

Any UK tariffs on agricultural trade between the UK and the Republic would be very damaging to the Republic's economy, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has warned.

Simon Coveney said businesses, farmers and consumers both in Ireland and the UK would be damaged by tariffs in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

The British government outlined its temporary no-deal plans on this morning, stating that no import tariffs would apply to goods entering Northern Ireland across the Irish border.

But tariffs of up to 40% in some cases are planned for products being exported from the Republic to the UK.

"Undoubtedly any tariff being imposed on agricultural product between the UK and Ireland will be very damaging and we will need to respond to that appropriately and we will as a government," Mr Coveney said.

Read More: UK tariffs plan for no-deal Brexit 'devastating' for Irish farmers

He said the Dublin government was in close contact with the EU on the issue of state aid supports and that agriculture officials were scheduled to meet European Commission officials about the issue today.

"The crisis here, the problem here and the uncertainty linked to Brexit all emanate from an inability of the British parliament to be able to give a clear signal through majority support on what they're willing to support and ratify," Mr Coveney said.

"We will continue to advocate for a sensible deal that emerged after two-and-a-half years of negotiation that solves many of these problems."

The tánaiste added that in the event of a no-deal Brexit the government would look for a further relaxation of state aid rules and for EU support for businesses.

"The solidarity is clear. There is no pressure on Ireland to change our approach in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement, the Irish protocol in it or indeed the backstop in all of its detail," Mr Coveney said.

"The pressure is in London. That is where the crisis is emanating from and that is where we need to see solutions emerge from."

He added: "It's up to the British political system and the British government to try and find a way of resolving its own issues."

The tánaiste made the comments in response to questions from the opposition in the Dáil today.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the British government's proposed tariff regime would have "very potentially devastating" implications for Irish farming.

"It would have the impact of devastating the rural Irish economy and indeed sectors of our agricultural industry," Mr Martin said.

Mr Coveney said that the opposition did not need to impress on him the importance of the issue.

He added that the Dáil would meet "if it has to" in the coming week to respond to political decisions being debated in Westminster.

The Dáil is scheduled to take a break tonight and is not due to meet again until March 26.

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