Which potential new UK trade deal could raise tensions with the domestic food sector again?

Thu 22 Jul 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

British farmers are set to clash with the government over proposals that a trade deal with New Zealand will slash tariffs to zero on agricultural imports, posing a threat to British farmers and food standards. 

City AM quotes a senior DiT source that negotiations could be concluded next month providing greater access for New Zealand producers to sell dairy, beef, lamb and wine into UK markets in a repeat of the recently agreed Australian trade deal.

The fifth round of UK negotiations with New Zealand took place between 8-16 June 2021.

'Farms undercut'

The National Farmers Union said that the Australia deal “would make life unbearable for small British family farms” who would be undercut by industrial Aussie producers who were not bound by the same welfare standards, reported IOE&IT News.

NFU chief EU exit and international trade adviser Gail Soutar said the union would maintain the same stance on any New Zealand trade deal.

DEFRA minister George Eustice was forced to defend the Australian and New Zealand trade deals during an Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee inquiry session on agricultural transition schemes, reports Farmers Weekly.

‘Wing and a prayer’

Chairman Neil Parish claimed the Australia deal was “done on a wing and a prayer” and had given 10-15% of the UK’s beef market to Australia, with New Zealand and other countries expecting similar treatment.

“Are you happy with giving this away?” he asked Eustice, who replied that protections would be in place for 10 years.

Exports down

Farmers Weekly also reported that export volumes to the EU this year were down across all sectors compared to pre-Brexit levels. In the first five months of 2021 beef exports were down by 30%, pork by 5%, and dairy by 12%.

It blames closure of the food service sector, trade frictions with EU, and high farmgate prices in the UK.