If the UK leaves the European Union without a trade deal, the impact would be catastrophic for the European meat industry, according to a new report.
'[A no-deal outcome would lead to] trade collapsing and market prices falling, resulting in job losses across the EU,' read the report commissioned by the European Livestock and Meat Traders' Union. Meat products would face the highest tariffs of all industries, the group said.
In a so-called 'hard Brexit' scenario, beef trade from the UK to the EU and vice versa would fall more than 80% due to the costs for customs and veterinary checks and higher transport costs, the report estimated.
Less trade would lead to a surplus of EU beef and pig meat, lowering the value of European beef production by €2.4 billion in the short term.
“It would be very difficult for UK suppliers to find alternative markets for these products domestically, as the UK tends to export cheaper cuts,” the report said. “This will hurt British farmers and businesses, leading to job losses across the UK.”
To minimise disruption, lawmakers should provide a long transition period, to allow businesses to adjust. UK and EU regulators should keep working together and allow for simplified transit and invest in ports.
“By potentially cutting off one of the largest and highest-value meat markets in Europe, Brexit threatens to be catastrophic for the industry across Europe and the UK,” said Philippe Borremans, president of European Livestock and Meat Traders' Union.