Belfast Telegraph

Avoiding trade charges 'key for Northern Ireland food industry'

By Margaret Canning

Local food and drink companies have said they want to avoid punitive tariffs and keep border disruption to a minimum following Brexit.

A report from the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (Nifda) said that members were worried about the impact of the EU referendum and the effect Donald Trump's policies would have on global trade.

Nifda urged the Assembly and the Government to focus on issues facing the sector and make sure the industry was taken into consideration during looming trade negotiations.

In an introduction to the report, Nifda chairman Declan Billington - who is also head of animal feed company John Thompson - said members already operated as efficiently as possible and would not be able to accommodate food tariffs.

He added, however, that a number of opportunities could arise from the EU vote.

"Successful resolution is not exclusively dependent upon the outcome of trade negotiations with Europe, but also on how we reposition our industry to service the food market both in the UK and globally," he insisted.

The report, produced by business advisory firm Deloitte, also stressed the interdependence of the Northern Ireland food sector with the Republic.

Around 25% of the Northern Ireland milk pool and 36% of its lamb is processed in the Republic, it explained.

Mr Billington added: "We are currently facing a period of great uncertainty following the Brexit referendum vote and more recently the result of the US election, which is likely to impact on inward investment and future trade agreements with the US."

Belfast Telegraph