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Falkland Islands admits disappointment and frustration with Brexit deal

Friday, January 8th 2021 - 09:50 UTC
Full article 17 comments
EU is the destination for close to 90% of the Falkland Islands’ exports of fishery products, measured by weight, according to 2018 data. EU is the destination for close to 90% of the Falkland Islands’ exports of fishery products, measured by weight, according to 2018 data.

Falkland Islands European Union exports are now subject to tariffs due to the UK not obtaining an agreement on behalf of the Falklands in relation to Brexit. On Wednesday, Legislative Assembly members released an opinion piece that expressed disappointment and frustration.

Falklands exports fish and meat to the EU and now anticipates tariffs of between 6 and 18% on seafood exports and an average tariff of 42% for meat exports to EU.

The release begins: “Firstly, it is important to put on record how disappointed and frustrated we are that the deal between the UK and the EU makes no provision for the Falkland Islands or the other Overseas Territories (OTs); as a result our EU exports are now subject to tariffs.”

The piece goes on to set out how MLAs have represented the interests of the fishing and farming sectors over the last four years “and what we will do now.”

It notes: “As an OT, we were never in a position to negotiate directly on our own behalf. Therefore, our first challenge was to get UK government officials to understand the impact that a no-deal Brexit would have on the Falkland Islands. We achieved this by engaging with local stakeholders and through the publication of three reports which we shared with the UK government.

In 2018 FCDO officials visited the Islands

Following this, officials from the FCDO (Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office) came to visit the Islands in 2018 and held meetings with Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association (FIFCA), Falkland Islands Meat Company (FIMCO) South Atlantic Environmental Research Institution (SAERI) Falklands Land Holdings (FLH) and Falklands Conservation, among others.”

It goes on to say additionally they sought to build wider support with members of the House of Commons and Lords, the European Parliament and the British public.

“This included securing coverage on the BBC, in all the UK national newspapers, and a number of European news outlets. We wrote letters to every MP and Peer and held meetings with as many politicians as possible, including providing evidence to select committees in the House of Commons and Lords. A joint delegation to Brussels was also organized with FIFCA and meetings were held with UK, Irish, and Spanish MEPs.

“For two consecutive years, the FIG exhibition stand at both the Labour and Conservative party conferences focussed on Brexit and its impact on the Falklands.

MLAs and officials also raised our concerns in countless meetings with FCDO officials, with our Minister, and at Joint Ministerial Councils. In addition to all of the above, through our membership of the UK Overseas Territories Association and the Overseas Countries and Territories Association, we worked collectively to set out the Brexit impact on OTs as a whole.”

So, what did all this achieve?

MEPs adopted a resolution for recognition of OTs in the final deal

MLA say their engagement with MEPs resulted in the European Parliament adopting a resolution calling for a recognition of the Overseas Territories in any final deal. The UK government also concluded that, from a trade perspective, the Falkland Islands would be the most negatively impacted OT in the event that a deal could not be secured. The UK government raised the OTs in its main negotiations and, when the EU failed to engage, they narrowed their ask to the Falkland Islands and Tristan da Cunha.

Eventually, EU negotiators made it clear that they did not have a mandate to negotiate on behalf of their own overseas countries and territories, and were therefore unwilling to discuss UKOTs.

According to the opinion piece, despite this setback the Falklands government continued to explore alternatives and the Falkland Islands Government Office in

London was in regular contact with officials in London (FIGO) and the UK Embassy in Madrid; MLAs and officials in Stanley also had weekly telephone conferences with the FCDO. Throughout all of this FIGO continued to organize meetings with politicians and MLAs met with many MPs and peers from across the political spectrum, all of whom were willing to engage on the Falklands’ behalf.

MLAs praised Ian Ascough and his team at the FCDO in London

The paper notes: “Special mention should also be made to Ian Ascough and his team at the FCDO in London who also intervened on behalf of the Islands and worked tirelessly to help us make our case.”

“With time running out, we developed a five-stage plan with an emphasis on the Prime Minister making a personal intervention to the EU on our behalf. We communicated this plan to the UK Government and a number of meetings were held with key UK politicians, all of whom encouraged the Prime Minister to intervene on behalf of the Falklands.

We even secured a question at the Prime Minister’s Question Time just before the Prime Minister set off to meet with the President of the European Commission.”

It was all in vain however, according to the opinion piece: “Unfortunately, despite our best and sustained efforts, the UK Government was unable to secure an agreement on our behalf.

We would like to put on record our thanks to FIG officials, to the many UK politicians who championed our cause, and to FIFCA and FIMCo. Despite the challenging situation we find ourselves in, it is heartening to know that we have so many supporters who are willing to go out of their way to help us.”

So, where does the Falklands go from here?

According to the piece, “we will not be giving up. We do not accept that tariffs on our exports to the EU should be the new status quo. Our priority now is to ensure that no stone is left unturned in securing the removal of these tariffs at the earliest opportunity and we have already begun to engage with the UK Government to make this case.”

In anticipation of events, the Falkland Islands Fisheries Association released a statement last December 12 warning that the impacts of the agreement announced “will be felt across the industry immediately and will have an instant impact on the overall profitability of all Falkland Islands Fishing Companies.”

Penguin News.


Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • border rover

    Pytangua - they are not asking to be bailed out, “we in England” haven't been bailing them out. The Islanders are a tough, resilient, hard working and innovative people, well able to adapt to new and challenging circumstances - circumstances that offer new opportunities not threats. The UK will continue to offer its protection from the inept , incompetent but potentially damaging regime in neighbouring Argentina but apart from that the Islanders are well capable of making their own very successful way in the new order of things.

    Jan 08th, 2021 - 12:46 pm +7
  • kelperabout

    While the tariffs are going to change how the fisheries operate out of the islands it does not mean that it is the end of life as we know it.
    We are a resilient people and innovative.
    The EU needs us as much as we need them and soon both parties will start negotiations to work out a viable trading deal.
    Spain stands to loose far more that tha Falklands because as many as 5000 people there rely on the Falklands produce. Whereas the Falklands fishing industry could, though not without cost, go elsewhere and sell their products. So the longer term impacts will not be as hard as it is going to be for the EU.

    Jan 08th, 2021 - 11:41 am +6
  • HansF

    The OAD agreements allowed the overseas territories of members of European countries to sell their export goods to the European Union free of taxes and free of quotas.

    These agreements were expiring in 2022 (a renewal was required), and were indeed an extremely flamboyant way of doing business.

    The UK left the European Union by its own choice, so why any UK overseas territory would expect and would make its people believe they could “do something” to keep enjoying the privilege of the OAD agreements?

    It was an impossible task for the UK to negotiate such thing under the Brexit. I hope you guys are successful in that endeavor.


    Jan 08th, 2021 - 10:02 am +4
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