Commenting following the announcement that the US is set to impose tariffs on a range of Irish food products including butter, cheese, dairy-based liqueurs and pork, the President of ICMSA, Pat McCormack, said that the imposition of tariffs at any time would be a matter of regret requiring a degree of commitment towards an equitable resolution. But he said that the idea that a range of Irish food products being exported to the US could be hit with a new 25% tariff in the present circumstances where the prospects for our existing major export market were “frankly terrifying” was almost beyond belief.
Mr. McCormack said that Irish farmers and agri-food were now being set up to take a hit as part of a tit-for-tat trade dispute in which they were categorically not involved and from which they had derived no benefit whatsoever. He said that farmers would read of the threats now being levelled against our products with concern and anxiety and when they learned that the threatened US tariffs were on foot of a dispute between the EU and US over supports for Airbus and Boeing, that regret would turn to disbelief .
“How have we ended up in a situation where some Irish food products are going to be lumbered with a new 25% Tariff by the US Government in retaliation for what the US alleges – and the WTO has concluded – was a failure by the EU to end subsidies for Airbus? Irish farmers are massively pro-EU and understand very well the principles of solidarity, but this is uncomfortably close to the Russian embargo where a political disagreement, however justified, seemed to bear down very disproportionately on farmers and food producers – and in fact still does. How can it be fair that the EU’s action on subsidies for Airbus can work its way back to the price that Irish farmers receive for their produce through a negative impact on the sales to the USA? It is intolerable that farmers are made to bear the cost of EU policy decisions and trade wars in which they play no part and from which they derive no benefit. We can’t afford this at the best of times, but where we are now, this is sheer madness. The Government has got to make sure that those elements directly involved in this trade dispute settle it amongst themselves or bear the cost amongst themselves – but certainly do not send that cost our way at a time when we need it like the proverbial “hole-in-the-head”, concluded Mr. McCormack.
Ends 3 September 2019.
Pat McCormack, 087-7608958
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office