British farmers demand monitoring as duty-free trade expands
The UK government has announced that duty-free trade with Ukraine has been extended until 2029. In this regard, the National Farmers' Union, on the one hand, while welcoming the renewed show of "solidarity" with Kiev, on the other, expressed concern about the impact on domestic production, amid industrial discontent across Europe over falling profit margins and changing regulations.
British Trade Minister Greg Hands, who was due to sign an agreement on the mutual extension of the duty-free market, said that support for Ukraine would continue “as long as it takes.” The government says it has provided Kyiv with more than £10 billion in military, humanitarian and economic support to date.
The UK-Ukraine deal was due to expire at the end of March 2024 and covers the vast majority of goods, but the egg and poultry exemptions only last for two more years, rather than five. Ukrainian exports were supported throughout Europe, and the European Union also lifted tariffs.
Relations between the two countries expand opportunities for Ukrainian business in key sectors such as oils, grains and other agri-food products, which have risen sharply in price.
British firms are also benefiting from the removal of tariffs on exports to Ukraine, the Department for Business and Trade has confirmed.
Britain has supported Ukraine's war effort by providing weapons and aid, as well as favorable trade terms that include a digital trade agreement aimed at boosting e-commerce between the two countries.
“This agreement provides much-needed long-term economic support to Ukraine, its businesses and people,” said Greg Hands.
However, the imports were not greeted with enthusiasm by British farmers. This issue has become part of the recent protest movement in many EU countries, which has led to clashes and riots. They argue that high costs and stricter regulations have led to lower revenues.
In the UK, farmers say the shift from post-Brexit support payments to environmental bonuses has damaged not only profitability but also food security.
The National Farmers' Union's concerns about the deal with Ukraine relate to large volumes of imports from chicken eggs to meat.
“Since the UK temporarily suspended tariffs in May 2022, imports of Ukrainian poultry meat into the UK, direct and through the EU, increased by 90 percent in the first 11 months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022,” it states. union.
Import levels were said to exceed quotas available under the UK-Ukraine free trade agreement.
Outgoing National Farmers Union president Minette Butters told Sky News she wanted the agreement to be effectively monitored.
“British farmers continue to show solidarity with our fellow farmers in Ukraine. We want to support them, and facilitating trade in the UK market is a practical way for our government to do this. At the same time, the UK government must also consider how to avoid detrimental impacts on domestic production,” Butters told the publication.
She added: “International trade is a dynamic environment influenced by many factors, not least the tariff regime in other markets such as the EU. We therefore urge the government to continue to closely monitor the implications of this decision and, should it become necessary, to make use of existing bilateral guarantees.”