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Brexit has “brought problems” for the Falkland Islands’ fishing industry, a Labour former defence minister has warned.
Derek Twigg, chairman of the Falkland Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), said there had “been a lot of concern” over the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU on Falkland Islands fishing exports, such as squid.
Speaking to the PA news agency as parliamentarians mark 40 years since the Falklands War, the MP for Halton said: “Brexit has brought problems for the islands in terms of the fisheries, because their fishery… is a very much large part of their economy, particularly squid, particularly the type of squid they have which is exported to Europe.
“Work is going on with the Falklands government and countries like Spain and the EU to try and ease those challenges around that because it’s such a big exporter.”
His comments were echoed by Falkland Islands government representative to the United Kingdom and Europe Richard Hyslop, who said: “When it comes to Brexit, as things stand, there are no obvious benefits to the Falkland Islands. There are however a number of challenges.”
Mr Hyslop said the EU is the main market for the Falkland Islands’ fishery exports, with exports accounting for “more than 50% of our GDP”, and “was an important market for meat exports”.
However since the end of the transition period in January 2021 the Falkland Islands’ exports to the EU have been subject to tariffs, he added, with an average of 42% for meat and between 6% and 18% for fisheries exports.
The “very high tariff” on meat exports has “resulted in the loss of the market as it is just not viable to export to the EU any more” while exports of fishery products to the EU are “now less profitable”.
Mr Hyslop said the Falkland Islands government was “exploring a wide range of options” looking at “how we have these tariffs removed”.
He said: “This is not an easy task, but we remain confident that at some point we will be successful.
“We have already made some limited progress in having the tariff temporarily removed in a small percentage of our exports.”
Mr Twigg, who previously visited the Falkland Islands in 2007 in his frontbench role, said he hoped a cross-party group of MPs would go to the Falklands in November to mark the 40th anniversary.
He said: “The main aim of the group is to continue as always to support the Falkland Islands and really underline that support is cross-party.”
The British Government and British Parliament “absolutely 100% give their backing to the Falkland islanders”, Mr Twigg said, adding: “Our position is very clear, that self-determination, sovereignty is absolutely paramount and in the end the Falkland Islands determine their future and nobody else.”
He said relations with the Argentinian government “continue to be strained”, adding: “We have to be always on alert and that’s why it’s important that the Government’s commitment to the Falkland Islands, not least in terms of general support, but also military support having service personnel and equipment based in the Falklands, is very important.”