Responding to a leaked EU Commission memo suggesting an all-island approach for the agri-food sector, IFA President Joe Healy said that Ireland's objective in the Brexit negotiations must be the maintenance of the closest possible trading arrangements with all of the UK and Northern Ireland.
"Solving the logistical challenges associated with the border is of course important, but the real priority for the Irish Government must be maintaining the trading arrangements with all of the UK. Such a solution would substantially mitigate or eliminate any border issues," he said.
“While this potentially addresses some of the border issues, the proposal does not address the economic and trading concerns for farming and the agri-food sector, either in Ireland or Northern Ireland. Great Britain is a much larger market for both economies than the internal market on the island of Ireland.”
The IFA President said he welcomed the comments by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dail, which confirmed this was the objective of the Irish Government.
Of the €4.5bn-€5bn of Irish agri-food exports going to the UK annually, approximately 80 per cent goes to Great Britain. The figures for Northern Ireland show a similar pattern. In 2015, Northern Ireland sold £2.1bn worth of food and agricultural products to Great Britain and exports to ROI were approximately £700m.