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Government needs to 'flex it muscles' on tariffs in event of no-deal Brexit

The director of Food Drink Ireland, Paul Kelly, wants the Government to flex its muscles to ensure greater protections for the Irish food and beverage sector in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

His warning comes after British environment secretary Michael Gove publicly rejected a zero-tariff regime after Britain quits the EU.

The UK has not yet confirmed what level of tariffs it will apply, but if they are based on World Trade Organisation levels then food will be the sector hit most severely.

Mr Kelly told RTE’s Morning Ireland that tariffs on some Irish exports to the UK could be as high as 50% to 60%, especially in the beef and dairy sector.

A no deal Brexit could have “an extremely bad” impact on the €4.5bn food and beverage market, he said. Tariffs “at the upper end” could be €1.7bn, he said.

“Tariffs are taxes by another word.”

Price rises on beef and dairy products could have a knock-on impact, added Mr Kelly.

We need a deal and a transition period to figure out a future trade deal.

He called for any tariffs imposed by the EU on UK exports to be diverted into a Tariff Stabilisation Fund which could then be used to offset the impact of Brexit on the sector.