Key pointsA common rulebook on goods would allow for free and frictionless trade and prevent a hard border between the north and south of Ireland.Under the free-trade area, there would be no tariffs or quotas on agricultural goods between the UK and EU.The UK has signalled its intention to “improve agricultural productivity” and “deliver improved environmental outcomes through its replacement for CAP”.
As has been previously revealed, following a divisive meeting that resulted in the resignation of two high-profile ministers, the UK is seeking a common rulebook for all goods, including agri-food, while excluding services.
This means the UK would commit to ongoing harmonisation with the relevant EU rules to allow for frictionless trade at the north-south border and to meet the conditions of the backstop agreement.
Under this proposal, there would be recognition that goods coming into the UK would face the same treatment at the border as goods coming into EU member states, so there would be no need for further restrictions between the UK and the EU.
It also clearly states that while the common rulebook will apply to only those rules that must be checked at the border, it will not cover marketing and labelling requirements, an area in which it says there is already difference between EU member states.
Tariffs and rules of origin
Also acknowledged is the extensive trade relationship between the UK and the EU in agricultural products, with 70% of UK food imports coming from the EU in 2017.
With this in mind, the paper sets out that the UK will seek a free-trade area for agricultural goods. As a result, there would be zero tariffs across agricultural goods, with no quotas.
There would also be no routine requirements for origin checks between the UK and EU due to the maintenance of harmonised rules.
Future UK agricultural strategy
The paper says that as the UK is exiting CAP, it will design a new system of agricultural supports, with high ambitions for a sustainable agricultural industry in the UK - within the confines of WTO rules.
The paper claims that the UK “will seek to improve agricultural productivity” and “deliver improved environmental outcomes through its replacement for CAP". This will be done in close partnership with the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
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