Irish cheddar could be hit by tariffs of up to €20m per year if proposed no-deal Brexit tariff rates are exercised.

With just 16 days to go until Brexit, the UK government has issued possible no-deal tariff rates, which Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) have called extremely unwelcome.

The tariff rate on butter would drop from €2,313/t to €605/t for New Zealand butter

The UK market is Ireland’s biggest consumer of Irish cheddar and takes over a quarter of Irish butter exports.

The no-deal tariff rates would level the playing field between Ireland and dairy giants such as New Zealand.

The tariff rate on butter would drop from €2,313/t to €605/t for New Zealand butter – the same rate which would apply to Irish butter – eroding Ireland's current market advantage.

Northern Ireland

On the issue of Northern Ireland, DII has criticised the UK government for not clarifying border arrangements for milk producers and pointed out that 804m litres of milk from NI came south of the border last year to be used in products under the integrated Ireland supply chain currently enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement.

Michael Gove, the UK Secretary of State in charge of farming, previously said that he would hope that all labelling arrangements will remain unchanged post-Brexit, but this has not been confirmed.

Back door

The UK has also proposed that trade across the Irish border will not be subject to tariffs for an unspecified temporary period.

This has led to some speculation that the border will be used as a ‘back door’ for goods to enter the UK without being subject to the proposed tariff rates.

However, this idea has been dismissed by DII who insist that the reputation of Irish dairy produce would suffer from any kind of under-the-table activity.

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