Concerns over new trade deal

UK farmers at risk of being undercut long term in new trade deal, says leading rural group
Sheep and lamb

The UK has agreed a free trade deal with New Zealand which has sparked uncertainty across the rural sector.

The deal was struck between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - following 16 months of talks by Department for International Trade negotiators.

UK-New Zealand trade was worth £2.3 billion last year and is set to grow under the deal.

It’s hoped the deal will remove barriers to trade and make it easier for smaller businesses to break into the New Zealand market.

Government is leaving the industry in the dark about what this deal really means for agriculture, setting a worrying precedent for other Free Trade Agreements we may strike with other major food exporters

CLA Deputy President Mark Tufnell

Mark Tufnell, Deputy President of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) which represents 28,000 farmers, land managers and rural businesses across England and Wales, said:

“Instinctively, we support free trade but by definition there has to be something in it for both sides. We see the opportunity for New Zealand farmers in this deal, but aren’t so sure what the opportunity is for those of us in the UK.

“Over time, New Zealand will be able to sell even larger quantities of meat and dairy produce into the UK, often produced much more cheaply than we can do ourselves. This risks undercutting UK farmers and putting a question mark over the viability of their businesses.

“Government is leaving the industry in the dark about what this deal really means for agriculture, setting a worrying precedent for other Free Trade Agreements we may strike with other major food exporters – many of which have far lower animal welfare and environmental standards than we do. Government promised that suitable checks and balances would be put in place to ensure we would not be undercut in this way. So far they have failed to materialise.

“We now need a serious conversation with government, particularly about the formation of the Trade & Agriculture Commission and a response to its predecessor’s report. If ministers expect us to compete on the global stage, they need to help us to do so and we need further support from trade envoys alongside better labelling.”

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Joel Holt
Joel Holt National Communications Manager