Falklands Islands issue no deal Brexit warning – ‘Significantly adverse impact’

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The Falkland Islands may be 8,000 miles far from the UK, but their presence in the European market is widespread. Spain’s Port Vigo has become the gateway to the European Union for almost all the fishery products of the British overseas territory, according to official data. The harbour, in the Galicia’s region of Spain, imported 288,373 tonnes of fish in 2017 alone, of which 47,286 tonnes, 16 percent, came from the Falkland Islands. The fishery products brought in approximately £124.92million (€139milion) in customs revenue, representing one of the most profitable markets for the Falklands. 

James Bates, executive secretary of the Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association (FIFCA), told Express.co.uk: “94 percent of our seafood products depend upon the EU market.

“Our squid industry is of such a size that in the EU that if you are on holiday in southern Europe and order the best quality squid, there is a very good chance it has been supplied by the Falkland Islands Seafood Industry.”

Mr Bates explained the Falkland Islands, being a British Overseas Territory, can trade freely to members of the single market.

But following Brexit, if the UK doesn’t strike a free trade deal or if it leaves under World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms without an agreement on October 31, the archipelago may face tariffs as high as 16 percent.  

READ MORE: Falkland Islands Brexit plea to MPs – don’t weaken us with your Brexit dithering

This, he said, would have a “significantly adverse impact” on the fishing sector.

He said: “We currently have quota and tariff-free access via our link with the UK.

“Brexit is of course a matter for the British people.

“It’s the case that depending on how things turn out there is the potential for a significantly adverse impact on our sector, perhaps of tariffs between 8 and 16 percent for example.”

However, he said the archipelago’s experience in the market would help curb the impact of a no deal Brexit on the islands. 

He continued: “But we have many years of experience in the market, excellent connections and partnerships and the Falklands Seafood Industry will work to ensure that any impact is minimised to the extent possible.” Both Tory leadership hopefuls Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt haven’t ruled out a no deal Brexit on October 31.

But Falklands’ officials warned against taking the UK outside of the EU without an agreement in place.

Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Leona Roberts, Chair of the Legislative Assembly, told Express.co.uk: “The Falkland Islands do not question Brexit; we respect the right of the people of the UK to determine their own future.

“However, it is vital that the current uncertainty surrounding Brexit is resolved as soon as possible as it is already having a negative impact on our exports to both the UK and the EU27.  

“If the UK were to leave the EU without a deal, fishery exports from the Falkland Islands into the EU27 are likely to be subject to WTO tariffs of between 6 percent and 18 percent.

“Meat products would likely to be subject to the WTO Agreement on Agriculture and subject to tariffs of an average of 42 percent.

“This would significantly impact our ability to deliver essential public services and to invest in vital infrastructure for the future growth of our islands.”

A UK Government spokesman told Express.co.uk: “We value our longstanding relationship with the Falkland Islands, and remain committed to protecting their interests in any Exit scenario.

“We will continue to support the Falklands on their Brexit contingency planning.”   

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