Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to help prepare the agri-food sector for the possibility of the transition period ending without a trade agreement with the EU.
Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs: One of my key priorities is for the UK and the EU to agree a zero tariff, zero quota limit deal, and to have maximum alignment in terms of SPS arrangements. I believe there is still time to achieve this and it is in everyone’s interest that we do. If there is no trade agreement between the UK and the EU, the implementation of the Protocol becomes even more challenging. We do not know exactly what the trade agreement will be and that is subject to ongoing negotiations, of which the 9th and last scheduled round took place last week.
Contingency planning is forming part of my Department’ preparations as a high priority, and external communications will form part of that work.