Case study: agri-food sector

The UK market continues to be a critical export destination for our agri-food sector.

  • Ireland exports over €4 billion in agri-food produce to the UK each year - one third of our total  merchandise exports to the UK

  • The UK relies heavily on Ireland as a source of beef and dairy products

  • Shared consumer tastes and language enable easier exporting

  • Ireland imports €4 billion in agri-produce from the UK each year


  • If trade barriers are imposed, the UK may choose other partners

  • If Ireland cannot find markets worth €4 billion to replace the UK, this could result in unemployment

  • Import barriers raise the cost of imports from the UK, and increase costs for Irish businesses

  • Subsidies to Irish farmers through the Common Agriculture Policy may decrease if the UK’s contribution of €1.2 billion is no longer available

Recommended actions

  • The UK has been critical of EU agricultural supports. This may mean that they will not focus on growing the domestic agri-food sector and will instead increase imports. Ireland needs to seize this opportunity

  • The impact on the agri-food industry will depend on the new UK-EU trade agreement. For Ireland, the most desirable agreement would be a Free Trade Agreement, and Ireland should pursue this

The Common Agricultural Policy is not covered if the UK joins the EEA. Ireland will need to negotiate an agreement with the UK on agri-food trading as part of the EU