Posted August 07, 2019 17:08:00A new report by the University of Essex has found that the value of the UK’s white post farms would be worth more if the UK left the EU, if it kept tariff-free access to the single market, and if it remained within the customs union.
The University’s study found that a Brexit that excluded tariff-Free access to trade with other EU countries would have a direct benefit to the UK.
The study, titled ‘Whites and the EU: The economic impact of a post Brexit UK’, found that leaving the EU would lead to an increase in the value for UK farmers by £1.4 billion per year, with tariffs costing farmers £400 million per year in lost income.
The report also found that EU farmers are the main beneficiaries of the tariff- Free access to EU markets and the UK would save £300 million per annum on imported food, as tariffs are removed.
It said:”Whites, particularly those farmers from the manufacturing sector, are the biggest beneficiaries of tariffs on the UK post Brexit, accounting for almost a third of UK farmgate imports, with a further 8% from dairy, 4% from beef and 1% from pork.”
The University of Surrey’s report, ‘Whits on the border’ , found that in 2021, the value in UK exports of agricultural products would be up by £2.6 billion, driven by a reduction in tariffs on dairy products, beef and pork.
The research also found an increase of £300 per annam on imports from EU countries, with the most affected being the UK, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, France, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Hungary and Austria.
“The EU-UK trade relationship is already at a high-risk point, and there are serious risks of a hard border in the future,” said the report’s lead author Dr Sarah McWilliams.
“If we are to maintain and grow a strong and growing agricultural sector, it is vital that we are not left behind.”
Dr McWilliams said the research was “unlikely to have any immediate impact on agricultural policy” in the UK but added that it could “help inform discussions in Parliament on the future of trade with the EU”.
The researchers said the “potential of Brexit to lead to a significant increase in value for farmers is significant”.
Dr Williams said: “There is strong support for the position that trade with non-EU countries should be preserved in the post Brexit environment.”
“But it is not yet clear whether Brexit would have any impact on trade between the UK and EU countries.
This paper argues that it is possible that the post-Brexit UK could benefit from tariff- free access to both the single and the customs Union.
If the UK remained within these barriers, it would also benefit from a reduction of trade barriers with non‑EU countries.”
In order to do this, the researchers say it would be “important that we maintain and increase tariff-less access to European markets”.
This would mean “remaining within the single trade market” and the use of “free movement of people” but they added that this was “not possible without a free movement of goods and services”.
“The UK must be able to freely trade with countries outside the EU without having to pay tariffs on goods produced in the EU.”
The paper said that “federalised trade policy would be required” and that “free trade with EU countries will be important for the UK” but said it was “more likely that the UK could retain access to tariff-neutral trade with all EU countries”.
However, the study found “the UK would not be able retain access in all cases to all EU markets”.
The researchers concluded that “a free trade arrangement with the remaining EU countries with tariff-like barriers, with free movement to the EU and access to all markets, would benefit the UK”.
Professor David Dyson, the research director, said: “A strong and prosperous agricultural sector depends on low tariffs and free trade with goods from all parts of the world, but in the event of Brexit the UK will be left with only limited access to these markets.
A post-remain UK would be better placed to benefit from free trade agreements with the European Union and other countries.”
The paper will be published in a forthcoming edition of the journal Economic History, in which it will be part of a wider research series on the subject.
For more information about this study, please contact: Katherine Hill, Department of Economics and Economic Policy, University of Essex Banks of England, Grenfell, E17 5TR, UKTel: 020 7867 1411 or 07872 317414, email [email protected] (Rebecca MacGregor, research editor, The Telegraph, London, UK), 0208 039 9043, e-