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New Zealand Trade Agreement

Volume 704: debated on Thursday 2 December 2021

11. What assessment her Department has made of the potential impact on UK farmers and crofters of the planned UK trade agreement with New Zealand. (904529)

This deal brings new opportunities to agricultural producers, making it easier to trade with New Zealand. It is a gateway to joining the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership—the CPTPP—a high-standard free trade agreement involving 11 Pacific nations. This will create new export opportunities for British farmers to those markets.

I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I have to say to the Minister that her confidence is not shared by hill farmers and crofters, or by the National Farmers Union and the National Farmers Union of Scotland. If the Government are confident in their assessment of the opportunities and threats from this agreement, will they commission an economic and environmental impact assessment, independent of Government, to show that they are correct?

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, this will be independently scrutinised, and there is obviously the Trade and Agriculture Commission as well. We have ensured that any reports are produced in good time for all the relevant Select Committees of this House to scrutinise them. There are tremendous opportunities. I also work closely with my counterparts in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to ensure that we are dealing with the genuine concerns of that sector, and we will continue to do so as the negotiations and deals progress.

Obviously the concerns of farmers and crofters will have to be addressed as the final agreement comes into place, but does my right hon. Friend agree that counter-seasonality offers a huge opportunity for British farmers to enter into agreements with farmers in New Zealand, so that markets across the world can be supplied all year round?

There are certainly opportunities through that to grow the market further still. I also think that we have to dispel some myths. It is not the case that the market is going to be flooded with New Zealand lamb. New Zealand already has tariff-free access through its WTO quota, of which it uses only half, so it is not the case that those things are going to come to pass. There are some massive opportunities and it is those opportunities that we need to focus on.