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UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement

Volume 710: debated on Thursday 10 March 2022

4. If he will hold discussions with the Secretary of State for International Trade on the potential effect on farmers and crofters in the highlands and islands of the UK-New Zealand free trade agreement. [R] (905985)

Over the past 18 months, I have held regular discussions with both the current Secretary of State for International Trade, my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Anne-Marie Trevelyan), and her predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss), regarding the negotiating mandate for the free trade agreement with New Zealand, which includes protections for British agriculture. Tariff liberalisation for sensitive goods, including beef and lamb, will be staged over time.

The Secretary of State’s decision to seek advice from the Trade and Agriculture Commission is welcome, but the questions on which he seeks advice all seem to revolve around standards. Important though standards are, they are not the full story as far as the crofters and farmers in my constituency are concerned. Will the Secretary of State encourage his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade to take a more farmer and crofter-focused approach? This week the Government’s own figures indicated that that trade deal risks taking £150 million out of British agriculture.

It is important to recognise that New Zealand has always had access to the UK market under an existing World Trade Organisation schedule of around 114,000 tonnes, but in recent years New Zealand has used only half its quota, because long before the quota is filled it is unable to compete with the great UK producers, including those in the right hon. Gentleman’s constituency.