Unilaterally lowering tariffs would result in greater access to foreign food produced at questionable standards
NFU Scotland submitted its response to the UK Government’s consultation on the future of UK tariffs on Thursday 5 March, in which it reinforced the message that any compromise on standards for products being imported would have serious consequences for Scottish agriculture.
In the submission, NFU Scotland made it clear that it is crucial that the applied tariffs are not unilaterally lowered in advance of trade talks. The UK’s 2019 temporary tariff schedule in the case of a no-deal BREXIT, which offered to reduce and remove tariffs, caused trade partners to halt negotiations on transitioning existing EU trade deals.
In the consultation submission, NFU Scotland has stated that any tariff reduction or removal should only be done as part of trade negotiations and in return for reciprocal concessions.
Speaking on the back of the Union’s submission, NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said
Applied tariffs are of fundamental importance to Scottish agriculture and it is absolutely crucial that we want to keep tariffs at the current level.
The high production standards to which we operate in Scotland do not come for free. It is the current tariffs that provide a level of protection to offset low price, low standard imports. They are the only tools allowed under World Trade Organisation rules to do that.
That protection has been vital, helping protect farmers and crofters against the worst effects of global competition.
Our industry is proud of the high standards it operates to, but these impose very significant additional costs. With WTO rules not allowing trade to be blocked to ensure a level playing field, it is only through the applied tariffs that any protection can be offered to our industry.”
Scotland’s farmers and crofters produce food which is world renowned for quality and we do not want to have these efforts undermined by applied tariffs with lower standards.
You can read the full NFU Scotland response below.