It is not possible to be definitive about the market and trade effects of the next CAP reform, for two reasons. One is that the Commission’s legislative proposal published in June 2018 is just that, a proposal, that may well be altered, even quite radically, before the new CAP regulations are agreed. The other is that, under the Commission’s proposal, Member States are given significantly more flexibility than they have at present to craft their own agricultural policy interventions in the context of their CAP Strategic Plans. Until these Plans are approved, it is not possible to predict, inter alia, the level of environmental and climate ambition that EU farmers will be asked to meet after 2020, the extent of targeting and redistribution of Pillar 1 direct payments, or the use that will be made of coupled payments.
Back to Brexit, I’m afraid, but I thought readers of this blog might be interested in a recent working paper I have written on this topic. Brexit (the UK’s exit from the European Union) will have important repercussions for the agri-food trade of developing countries because of the UK’s size (it is the sixth largest economy in the world) and its important role as an importer of agri-food products (it accounts for 12% of the EU’s imports from developing countries). These effects will occur through a variety of different channels.
Some of the key conclusions of the paper are:
• There will be higher trade costs for UK-EU27 trade.
On 23 March 2018, the European Council in its Art. 50 formation welcomed the agreement reached earlier last week by the negotiators on parts of the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement covering citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, a number of other withdrawal issues and the transition. Prime Minister May wrote following that agreement to European Council President Donald Tusk giving her full support to the draft Agreement and highlighting, in particular, her support for efforts to solve the Ireland border issue. The European Council was therefore willing to set out its guidelines with a view to the opening of negotiations on the overall understanding of the framework for the future relationship, which will be elaborated in a political declaration accompanying and referred to in the Withdrawal Agreement.
The EU Commission yesterday forwarded a draft Withdrawal Agreement to the UK authorities for negotiation. This draft builds on the initial draft submitted by the Commission for approval by the Council (Art.50) and the Brexit Steering Group of the European Parliament on 28 February last. To accompany that initial text, the Commission published a helpful Q&A as a guide to the withdrawal process which still remains valid today. Press reports have highlighted that governments tweaked the initial text in some minor ways but retained the broad thrust of the document.
Negotiators are expected to work on the draft over the weekend and in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday next week.
“I do want us to have a customs agreement with the EU. Whether that means we must reach a completely new customs agreement, become an associate member of the Customs Union in some way, or remain a signatory to some elements of it, I hold no preconceived position. I have an open mind on how we do it. It is not the means that matter, but the ends.”
In the White Paper that followed in February, the Government stated that it would prioritise securing “the freest and most frictionless trade possible in goods (…) between the UK and the EU“.
This level of preparedness on the EU side for the forthcoming negotiations contrasts sharply with the impressions we have of the UK side.
In a new study for the AGRI Committee of the European Parliament, Professor Alan Swinbank of the University of Reading turns this traditional focus on the impact of the CAP on world markets on its head. His study The Interactions between the EU’s External Action and the Common Agricultural Policy instead looks at how the external dimension of the EU – including trade policies pursued through the WTO and other international obligations and its development co-operation activities with neighbouring states and developing countries – have influenced the evolution of the CAP.
Domestic support and Bound Total AMS (Aggregate Measurement of Support) may not be high priority items, compared to market access, in terms of analysing trade distortions. Still, anything that touches on farm support and limits on such support attracts attention. This may apply also in a case of Brexit negotiations. This note is about the WTO domestic support commitment of the United Kingdom in case of a Brexit.