FARMING ORGANISATIONS have welcomed the news that the UK has been granted 'third country' status by the EU, which will allow for ongoing trade in the event of a no-deal Brexit – but warned that the market access it grants would be burdened with heavy tariffs.

The National Sheep Association’s Eleanor Phipps commented: “It is pleasing this information has come now before the next Brexit deadline, which is just three days away. Had we left without listed status being secured, sheep meat exporters would have lost access to the EU market overnight with no knowledge of when it may be returned, which would have been very damaging for the industry. With this assurance, exporters can rest assured the market will remain if we leave without a deal.”

However, NSA is still emphasising the risks of a no-deal, as third country status would be accompanied by tariffs applied to UK lamb exports. Miss Phipps continued: “In order to utilise the now secured EU market for UK sheep meat, exporters will have to face the 40-50% tariffs to export – we are still very clear that a no-deal Brexit would not be desirable for our industry.”

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “While not surprising, it’s positive that the EU has agreed to approve third country listing for the UK in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, but people need to be aware that this would still come at an unacceptable cost.

“This listing is necessary to allow continued exports if the UK crashed out of the EU, but it does not solve the massive problems associated with a cliff edge Brexit.

“This technical approval does not change the balance of risks associated with a ‘no-deal’. If the UK leaves without a deal, then farm produce will still face high tariffs, making exports non-viable, and that would have a real impact on farm and croft incomes, damaging the rural economy.”

President of the British Veterinary Association, Simon Doherty, shared his relief following the UK’s approved status: “Amidst all of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the listed status application approval is a very welcome piece of news. BVA made an early call for the government to ensure the UK achieved listed third country status in order to avoid the nightmare scenario that no animals or animal products could be exported in a no-deal Brexit.”

However, under third country listed status, veterinary certification will still be required for all exports and imports and, under a no-deal Brexit, the UK would see a significant increase in the volume of that certification. BVA has previously raised concerns about the impact that this would have at a time when the workforce is already experiencing shortfalls in capacity.