Commenting on the Prime Minister's speech on the Brexit negotiations, Dr Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK, said:
"Today, the Prime Minister lifted some of the uncertainty created by the Brexit referendum, bringing some long-awaited clarity on the Government's approach to a number of key Brexit issues. Although we welcome the Government's commitment to maintain a robust trading relationship with the EU, we have significant concerns about the UK's prospects outside the Single Market and without certain elements of the EU Customs Union.
"With 80% of UK dairy exports currently going to EU countries, any disruption to current agreements would have an extensive and costly impact on our industry. We support the Government's commitment to put in place a strong, swift and effective transitional process and urge them to avoid any kind of interruption to current trade agreements with EU countries or the creation of counterproductive tariff or non-tariff barriers. What we absolutely cannot see is a fall back to WTO default terms as the tariffs within WTO arrangements would have disastrous consequences for dairy trade.
"In addition to uninterrupted access to the EU market, our priorities for the UK dairy industry are to avoid the creation of non-tariff barriers and to retain access to productive labour."
Commenting on the issue of Northern Ireland's border with the Republic of Ireland, Dr Bryans added:
"We welcome the Prime Minister's decision to protect the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland. The Northern Ireland dairy industry works hand in hand with the Irish dairy industry with common practices developed to improve efficiency and add value throughout the dairy supply chain."
"We pledge to give the Government our input to help make Brexit arrangements a success for the dairy industry and look forward to contributing to their work in this regard."