Brevet Cable wrote:Don't know how much coverage it's received outside of Wales, but the Royal Welsh Show started today -- despite it's name, farmers from all over the UK are there.
One of the main things being discussed there is the effect leaving the EU - and in particular, leaving without a deal being reached - will have on Welsh & British farming....and from farmers I know, they're scared.
Because of the incentives, too many of them throughout the UK switched from livestock & arable foodstuff production to producing rapeseed & other crops to be used for bio-fuel production.
The fear now is that the UK Government won't continue the incentive scheme which allows them to make a profit from this, nor will it make any grants available to allow them to switch back to foodstuff production.
That'll lead to a lot more bankruptcies than there already are.
In Wales in particular, over 90% of foodstuff produced ( meat in particular ) goes to other EU Countries. If/when tariffs are introduced, that won't happen.
At the same time, they'd find it difficult - if not impossible - to compete on price with foodstuff being imported into the UK.
There's also the 'Product of the UK' con where foodstuffs are imported from overseas and merely packaged in the UK which - under current regulations - entitled them to be labelled as soming from here....you can bet that that will change if we leave the EU without a deal.
Ironically, given that most of them appear to have voted to leave, the same could be said for the UK fishing fleet.
Many of the skippers sold their licenses to foreign companies, and even with the UK-flagged boats at the moment most of the catch is sold to other EU Countries rather than being consumed in the UK.
As for the UK manufacturing it's own goods, we're pretty much stuffed.
Most of the large manufacturing companies are foreign-owned & the remaining SMEs would find it difficult to cope, especially if HMG don't match the subsidies those companies receive from the EU.
A lot of what the UK produces isn't really produced here, it's merely assembled, in the same way that European & Asian companies have set up assembly plants in the USA to avoid tariffs..... what incentive is there for them to continue that practice if we leave the EU without a proper trade deal?
Similarly, a number of the few remaining UK steelworks don't actually smelt their own steel, they import cheap ingots from countries such as Russia.... by doing so, they can label it as being produced in the UK, thus avoiding EU tariffs & being able to charge more for it than they can if they produce it in the country the ingots came from.
( As an aside, a lot of the steel - and aluminium - works were purchased by Indian companies....many - especially the aluminium-works - were either stripped out completly then demolished, or they stripped out the majority of the smelting equipment...and what they stripped out was either shipped to India for use or was shipped to other EU countries - Italy in particular - where they also owned similar plants )
I think the farmers are just as much of a disparate group in this debate as any other, I well remember the president of the NFU being interviewed just after the result and he was very bullish (pardon the pun) about the opportunities that would come out post brexit and how it was the chance the industry needed for reform and re-invention away from the EU shackles. Incidentally when have you ever heard a farmer get in front of a microphone and be anything but miserable?
With the foreign companies that have invested here you need to ask the question why did they choose to invest here? If it was to get access to easy trade conditions within Europe or use the EU's trading agreements with the rest of the world to their advantage then why didn't they choose to invest in another mainland EU country where they would have received the exact same benefits but where wage costs are a lot lower and therefore production savings would be that much greater? There's more about us than just being in the EU. Will it be enough to counter-act any potential negative tariffs that may be in the offing? I don't know but I hope so.
Recently work has meant that I have had to go to the mainland and I was truly shocked at some of the work practices. I was on a construction site where health and safety was pretty much non-existent, to the point where there was a fatality and our British contractors were refusing to go onto the site. Local authorities came along, asked a few questions and the site was open again within a day (in fact i don't think it was ever officially shut down). This happened in Germany. Anecdotal I know but it showed me that we sometimes make assumptions that everyone else is better or more efficient & professional than us and they are not.
The point over the steel and Aluminium is a good one, especially the Indians moving kit over to Italy. How is that if Cunard need a new Queen Mary chances are it will get built on French or Italian stocks? Alright our ship building days have sailed (another pun, sorry) but how come the Italians have flourished? They are not a third world country paying miserly wages to their skilled workforce, ok they may be less than ours but not by that much. They don't dig anymore Iron ore out of the ground than we do and yet another EU country very similar in size to the UK can afford to do something we can't. Because it's state owned. State owned by a government that has to go cap in hand to the EU because they are broke. A state owned company that just bought a 50% stake in a French ship building company that was yep, you guessed it, owned by the French government. So I guess the French won't be making too much of a noise at the table next time the Italian re-payments are on the agenda.