SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has warned that the risk of no trade deal being agreed between Britain and the EU by the end of the year remains high.
Mr McGlone said, “While recent focus has been on tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, negotiations between the British Government and the EU on a new trade deal have been dragging on with little sign of progress being made.
“We are already half-way through the transition period and, with the UK ruling out any extension, a new trade deal still needs to be agreed with the EU and ratified by the end of this year.
“Failure to do so will greatly hinder our attempts to recover economic ground lost during the pandemic.
“While the Ireland Protocol remains in place, and intact, there would be some protection in a no-deal scenario, but trade between the island of Ireland and Britain will be affected.
“A no-deal scenario with the EU would also increase the risk of a US trade deal that would open the way for products like chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef into the UK market.
“The acceptance of lower welfare and sanitary standards in food production risks the current high food safety achieved through Europe-wide standards. The associated use of preventative antibiotics in the US also has implications in the battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
“We need to see real movement in negotiations with the EU in the weeks ahead if a no-deal scenario is to be avoided.
“The SDLP will continue to argue for an extension to the Brexit transition period that would allow time for the right trade deals to be negotiated.”