Parliamentary committee launches probe on impact of trade deals on food standards

Thu 8 Jun 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Food laid on a EU flag with a British passport

A parliamentary agricultural committee has announced a new investigation into the impact of the UK’s post-Brexit trade deals on the food industry.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee (EFRA) yesterday (7 June) said that its new inquiry would look at how agreements like the UK-Australia and UK-New Zealand deals are likely to impact consumers, food producers and businesses.

The investigation will also look at the possible effects of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as well as agreements currently being negotiated by the government, such as those with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Israel.

‘Positive in principle’

EFRA committee chair, Sir Robert Goodwill, said: 

“In principle free trade is a positive thing – it’s a rising tide that floats all vessels. 

“But it’s also important to be cautious. We need to balance the advantages of agreements against their disadvantages, particularly when it comes to agriculture and food. 

“We need to look into how a particular deal might affect consumers, farmers and food processors. And we need to be aware of how the various deals interact with each other – what their cumulative impact is on the food and farming sector”.   

The committee has issued a call for evidence on a number of areas including agri-food, support for businesses and food standards.

Interested parties have until Saturday 29 July to submit their views.

There has been criticism of both the Australia and New Zealand deals from many in the farming industry, although prime minister Rishi Sunak has pledged to focus on farmers in future trade negotiations.

TOM

The government’s latest draft Border Target Border Operating Model (TOM) includes a number of measures aimed at reducing the costs of shipping food internationally.

As reported previously by the IOE&IT Daily Update, this includes categorising new sanitary or phytosanitary (SPS) goods and applying checks and documentation depending on this risk category.

Confident on categorisations?

On a recent IOE&IT webinar on ‘Upcoming changes to how EU businesses trade with the UK’, around half (48.44%) of respondents to a poll said that they were ‘quite confident’ that they could assign goods to these categories correctly.

However, almost two out of five (39.06%) said they were ‘not very confident’ in their ability to categorise goods properly, with an additional 4.06% feeling ‘not at all confident’.