NPA response to Withdrawal Agreement
15th Nov 2018 / By Alistair Driver
The NPA has welcomed the key elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and has urged MPs to back it to avoid a potentially catastrophic ‘no deal’ for the pig sector.
Theresa May secured the backing of her Cabinet for the agreement on Wednesday night, but the deal still needs to be ratified by the various EU decision-making bodies before being put before the UK Parliament, probably in December. This is likely to be the biggest hurdle to securing an agreement that would deliver a transition period after March 31 and sets out the principles for a close future trading relationship with the EU, subject to further negotiations.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “We welcome the Withdrawal Agreement as it provides continuity and some much-needed certainty for the pig sector.
“The transition period up to the end of 2020, and possibly longer, is very important for our sector, which will be heavily affected in so many ways by our departure from the EU. The commitment to a free trade area with zero tariffs and quotas is also welcome as the two-way trade in pork products we currently enjoy with the EU is critical.
“If the agreement becomes reality, there would still be a number of issues where we continue to demand clarity, however. These include access to EU workers under the new skills-based migration policy and the maintenance, at least, of the current surveillance work for pig disease at EU level and of our border controls to keep infectious diseases out of the UK.
“Overall, this agreement would remove some of the fears within the pig sector over our future outside the EU, while enabling us to focus on the opportunities.
“But, as has been well-documented this is just one step towards such an agreement. We urge MPs when they get to vote to consider the potentially devastating impact of leaving the EU without a deal for the pig sector and wider agricultural community.
“Our hope is that the Government and MPs work together for best interests of country, rather than using this situation as an excuse to score political points. As the high profile resignations start on the morning after, our fear, however, is that this might be too much to ask.”