The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Thursday 21 October.
“With permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the new agreement in principle between the UK and New Zealand on our free trade agreement, which we are working towards delivering.
Yesterday, the UK agreed in principle the main details of a trade deal. A UK-New Zealand free trade agreement will be another major trade deal, like our agreement with Australia. This marks a significant step towards the UK’s aim to join the £8.4 trillion Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade area. The UK-New Zealand trade relationship was worth £2.3 billion last year and is set to grow under the deal. Both Prime Ministers have heralded the new partnership, which will take on some of the biggest global challenges, from climate change to gender equality, respect for indigenous communities and the future of digital trade.
This deal is part of the Government’s commitment to building back better, bringing the benefits of trade to level up all parts of the country. Our shared history with New Zealand, common values and commitment to free trade are matched by a dedication to high standards and the rule of law. It makes complete sense to do a trade deal with New Zealand, and it will continue to strengthen our long-standing relationships as key allies and friends.
We have laid out the core benefits of a deal as per the agreement in principle. A comprehensive trade agreement with New Zealand will slash red tape and deepen access for our advanced tech and services companies, while making it easier for smaller businesses to break into the New Zealand market. UK workers will benefit from better business travel arrangements to New Zealand, and UK professionals such as lawyers and architects will be able to work in New Zealand more easily, allowing UK companies to set up shop in New Zealand and bring the best British talent with them.
High-quality New Zealand products that British consumers love will become more affordable, from Marlborough sauvignon blanc to manuka honey and kiwi fruit. The new agreement in principle means that existing tariffs as high as 10% will be removed on a huge range of UK goods, from shoes to ships and from buses to bulldozers, giving British exporters an advantage over international rivals in the New Zealand import market, which is expected to grow by 30% by 2030.
Throughout negotiations, we have remained in close contact with businesses, farmers and other stakeholders. We will back British farmers in opening up new export opportunities, such as to the CPTPP markets, which are expected to account for a quarter of global import demand for meat by 2030. The agreement in principle adds momentum for accession to the CPTPP, of which New Zealand is a key member. The CPTPP had a joint GDP of £8.4 trillion in 2020 and includes some of the biggest economies of the present and the future, from Japan and Mexico to Malaysia and Singapore. By 2030, two-thirds of the world’s middle classes will be in Asia, creating unparalleled opportunities for UK businesses. Britain needs to be positioned in the coming decades to trade freely with these high-growth parts of the world.
The Governments of New Zealand and the United Kingdom now intend to finalise the free trade agreement text before signature and subsequent entry into force of the deal. Once signed, the deal will be presented to Parliament and published on GOV.UK, alongside an independently scrutinised impact assessment. There will be full and robust scrutiny of the deal, including time for the relevant parliamentary committees to produce a report on the deal before it is ratified. In addition, the new Trade and Agriculture Commission, chaired by Professor Lorand Bartels, will provide expert and independent advice to the Government and Parliament once the deal has reached signature stage. The new commission will look specifically at how the deal is consistent with relevant domestic statutory protections, ensuring that world-leading British agricultural standards are upheld. This agreement will strengthen ties between two nations committed to free and fair trade, delivering strategic and economic benefits to the United Kingdom.
This agreement in principle on a free trade deal is a win-win for two natural trading partners. It is tailored to the UK’s strengths, slashes tariffs on our exports and deepens access for British businesses. Our like-minded democracies will now unite to take on great global challenges such as climate change, while harnessing opportunities such as digital trade. A UK-New Zealand free trade agreement will show what global Britain can achieve as a sovereign trading nation.
This agreement in principle is just one part of our ambitious strategy to deepen trade ties with like-minded partners and ensure that these alliances create a more predictable, free and fair framework for British businesses. Free trade is not something to be frightened of or to run away from. We want to be working with allies to influence the rules of the game and, in today’s world, FTAs are the vehicles by which those rules are shaped.
This deal will be a modern partnership for the 21st century: two staunch democracies working together to meet global challenges from climate change to the future of digital trade. Together we will embrace the opportunities of the global marketplace to support jobs, enterprise and wealth creation. We will fuel our recovery from the Covid crisis through free trade and demonstrate that it is part of the solution to the greatest challenges of our time. That is what this agreement in principle represents and I commend this Statement to the House.”
I am grateful to the Minister for presenting to your Lordships’ House the Government’s Statement from last Thursday on the agreement in principle reached between the UK and New Zealand on the proposed trade agreement. I declare my interest as stated in the register that I have a dairy farm.
On its own merits, this trade agreement adds a further 0.19% of UK trade towards the 80% threshold the Government committed to in their election manifesto. This is not that magnificent but it contains some sensitive elements that are a major concern to our important agriculture industry; these give widespread access to huge quantities of food of varying quality to the UK’s 60 million population in return for some potential opportunities for exports to a population of a mere 4.8 million New Zealanders—somewhat fewer than Scotland’s 5.5 million population. New Zealand ranks 53rd in size in terms of the trade it conducts against the UK’s other trading partners; this was worth £2.3 billion last year. The Statement says that tariffs as high as 10% will be removed. Can the Minister clarify whether the Government expect both imports and exports to grow by 30% in tandem by 2030 as stated in the Statement, or is this figure merely a reflection of the growth the Government expect the New Zealand economy to achieve? What figures have the Government estimated for the beneficial growth for the UK from this trade deal?
The Government try immediately in the Statement to play up the strategic importance of this deal as a significant step towards their aim to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership—CPTPP. Somehow it is meant to add momentum for accession to a partnership fraught with doubt at the moment since the USA pulled out of the deal as to whether it might rejoin and on what terms. There is also the question surrounding China: whether it may be invited to join and on what terms. Does the Minister expect the UK’s accession to take precedence over these two important trading nations?
The Government state that they believe that this region will form the basis for massive economic growth, with trading opportunities to a growing middle class of the future. While this may prove to be correct, does the Minister recognise that the region will become ever more dominated by China and how it will operate throughout the region? Are the Government prepared to change their stated position of not entering into a trading relationship with China?
Returning to the specifics of this agreement in principle, its main effects could be severely felt throughout the agricultural industry, especially sheepmeat and dairy. New Zealand has a climate much like the United Kingdom’s. This agreement seems to be a cut and paste from the Australian agreement in principle in that it opens wide the UK food market to huge increases in volumes without any quota restrictions to immediate access. New Zealand can on agreement export four times the quantity of lamb to the UK than it did last year, as much butter next year as it exported to the UK over the last six years, and 25 times more beef, all in year one. What effect does the Minister expect this to have on the UK market and its prices? The National Farmers’ Union commented that the UK will be made available for
“significant extra volumes of imported food—whether or not produced to our own high standards—while securing almost nothing in return for UK farmers.”
Although it may be said to be of huge benefit to consumers, and I do not doubt that it is a great opportunity, there is huge doubt over the standard of food in relation to the high standards currently in operation here. To allay the deep concern expressed far and wide by many organisations towards the Government’s lack of commitment to high standards, shown by their not enacting them on a statutory basis during the passage of the then Agriculture Bill last year and the then Trade Bill this year, the Government have set up the Trade and Agriculture Commission to report on setting up a framework for government trade policy. The noble Lord, Lord Grimstone, announced last Thursday that, at long last, the Government’s response to the report has now been published. Although I have not been able to study it in depth for tonight’s Statement, I welcome that the Government have now finally published this response. My quick reading of it is that the Government do not spell out how these two agreements in principle and how future new trade deals will be assessed by the TAC regarding checks on the standards of imported food.
Are the Government committed through their response to take on board the depth of concern regarding the quantities being imported that might be below the level of UK standards, which it would be illegal for farmers in this country to market? How will the 50% of food sold through catering, restaurants and food services be assessed? Does being consistent with the UK statutory protections mentioned in the Statement really measure up to being equivalent to the standards put on the table by UK producers? Can the Minister confirm that the new statutory TAC, which was also set up last week, will see the texts of these two new agreements in principle from Australia and New Zealand, and be able to report to your Lordships’ International Agreements Committee in time for the deals to be reported to Parliament?
The Government’s response also mentioned that they would respond in due course to the Dimbleby report and set up a White Paper for a future food strategy. Although this is ongoing, I very much welcome the stance the Government have taken on this and look forward to further developments.
My Lords, I also welcome the Statement. The Minister’s noble friend Lord Grimstone is assiduous in maintaining contact with the Front Benches and keeping us informed. That is great, and I am grateful for it. I would be grateful if the Minister passed that on.
I also welcome an agreement that will reduce tariff barriers on trade with one of our closest allies, and which will allow those delivering services easier recognition of their qualifications and their ability to work across the two friendly countries, making it easier for businesses to invest in new technologies and recognise intellectual property, investment and digital. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, indicated, there are elements of concern, some of which are in the agricultural sector. Can the Minister confirm that the statutory TAC will see the texts of these agreements before the conclusion of the legal scrubbing and the formal approval, and before they are presented to Parliament for ratification? There are important consequences for our agriculture sectors that need deep scrutiny.
Although I welcome some of these elements, there is little doubt that the New Zealand Government have welcomed them even more. The Government have negotiated an agreement that provides very considerably greater competitive advantage to our friends. On their own assessment of the economic impact, the Government suggest that the agreement could actually reduce UK GDP over 15 years. The Prime Minister of Australia called this an “All-Black victory”. Coming from a rugby-mad area of the Scottish Borders, it is painful to hear our competitors say that it is yet another All-Black victory.
Over the weekend I looked at the New Zealand negotiating objectives for the UK and the EU. The EU completed its 11th round of negotiations in July. The New Zealanders were asking the same of the EU as they have asked for us. It seems we have given them all that they wanted and the EU is holding out on certain areas. The assessment from this Government suggests that, over 15 years, this agreement could represent a mid-range of 0.00% for UK GDP. For the EU, the mid-range was 0.01%. I would be very interested if the Minister could answer this question: what and where is the Brexit dividend for our trade with Australia and New Zealand if we are negotiating agreements that have resulted in the UK potentially benefiting less than we would have done if we were still part of the customs union and the single market?
It might be that the Government’s position is a cunning loss leader. As the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, indicated, the Government seem to see this a gateway to the CPTPP. Can the Minister state what the Government’s position is with regard to China’s application? Does the UK support China acceding to the CPTPP?
I see the noble Lord, Lord Deben, in his seat, which has prompted me to ask a question regarding the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability, which New Zealand launched with Costa Rica, Fiji, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Will elements of this agreement allow for that agreement on trade and stability to be widened? The UK now has an agreement with four of those six countries, so what is the Government’s position on these negotiations?
We recently debated the UK’s significant trading power with Norway, which represents 10 times the size of trade with New Zealand. In that debate it was startling to find out that the UK had not secured any protection for geographical indicators for our produce. Can the Minister confirm, because it is hard to see it in the documentation that been presented, that the UK has secured protection of geographical indicators with New Zealand? This is one of the sticking points I referred to. It would be very interesting to know whether we have given way on this or whether we have asked for it.
My final question relates to the fact that we now have agreements in principle with Australia and with New Zealand, and we have a continuity agreement with Canada and negotiations advanced for discussion with it, but at no stage in any of those discussions have the Government suggested trade with the Commonwealth as an opportunity we could expand. Our relationship with Australia, Canada and New Zealand—the richest countries in the Commonwealth—is a platform for wider intra-Commonwealth trade. This is very close to my heart, having chaired a commission on Commonwealth trade with the Nigerian Trade Minister. It is a continuing disappointment that before the referendum we heard that Brexit would be an opportunity to widen Commonwealth trade, but in these key agreements with the richest countries in the Commonwealth we have heard nothing. What is the Brexit dividend for trade in the Commonwealth? Will we see a chapter in the New Zealand agreement looking at the expansion of wider Commonwealth trade?
I am grateful for the comments made by the noble Lords, Lord Grantchester and Lord Purvis, on this deal. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the proposed deal in this House. I will certainly pass on the compliments of the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, to my noble friend Lord Grimstone for keeping us all in touch with what is going on.
As the House will know, on 20 October 2021 the Government agreed the main details of the deal. The leaders reaffirmed the enduring partnership between the UK and New Zealand during their discussion and agreed to work closely together on important areas of mutual interest such as defence, technology collaboration and tackling climate change, including through a clean tech partnership. But, as the House will know, this is in effect an agreement in principle, not dissimilar to the Australia deal. The AIP document reflects what the UK and New Zealand negotiating teams have jointly decided as of 20 October should be included in the agreement.
I want to answer as many questions as I can. The noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, raised the subject of the accession to the CPTPP. As I think he and the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, acknowledged, this is an exciting opportunity for the UK. This agreement is a gateway into the CPTPP, which is a huge free trade area of 11 Pacific nations. Joining this group will mean more opportunities for British exports to those high-growth markets. Demand for beef and lamb is increasing in the Asian market, and CPTPP countries are estimated to account for 21% of global meat imports in 2030—which goes a little way to giving some statistics, particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Purvis.
I shall say a little more about this in a moment, but the deal does not undercut farmers. We have ensured that there will be protections for the industry, including staged tariff liberalisation to allow farmers sufficient time to adapt, as well as a general bilateral safeguard mechanism—I understand that, for certain sensitive goods, this will be up to 15 years. Goods that are exported to New Zealand are tariff-free, which I am sure noble Lords will know.
The concern about this deal being a threat to our farmers was, again, raised by the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester. New Zealand lamb complements British lamb. New Zealand and the UK have different lamb seasons—let us use the word counter-seasonality, which is the expression I have got used to. Our consumers have been buying high-standard, high-quality New Zealand lamb for years. The UK will not be flooded with Kiwi lamb. New Zealand already has tariff-free access through its WTO quota but in 2020 used less than half that quota, meaning that the Kiwis could already export more sheepmeat to us tariff-free but, interestingly, choose not to. I shall give some further statistics to the noble Lord: New Zealand sheepmeat exports to the UK have fallen by nearly half over the past decade, and New Zealand sheepmeat is already committed to the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific markets. In 2020, around half of its sheepmeat exports went to China, a country mentioned by the noble Lord, while 55% of beef exports went to Asia and the Pacific. In a nutshell, this is a great opportunity for UK farmers.
The opportunities for UK businesses are also worth mentioning. As I mentioned earlier, UK exporters will no longer have to pay tariffs on any goods. This means that they can do business at lower costs and gain an advantage over international rivals in the New Zealand import market, a market which is expected to grow, as was mentioned earlier, by around 30% by 2030. In addition, red tape will be cut for businesses which export to New Zealand, including 6,200 UK SMEs, opening up opportunities for more small businesses to grow their customer base abroad with the necessary online support. It is important to mention data. The free flow of trusted data, which is essential for modern businesses, will be guaranteed between the UK and New Zealand, making it easier for UK businesses trading digitally to break into the New Zealand market.
The noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, raised some questions about the National Farmers’ Union, which I am aware has expressed some concerns. I hope that I can reassure him and the NFU that we are carefully considering the individual combined effect of the agreements that we are negotiating, including enhanced export opportunities for UK agricultural producers. This agreement in principle with New Zealand is without prejudice to other trade deals, and we will consider each negotiation within the context of our trading relationship with that partner. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, which goes a little way to answering the question from the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, in relation to the EU. We are working closely across government to ensure that our trade policy does not undermine UK farmers and producers of agricultural goods and that any deal includes protections for the agricultural sector.
The noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, raised a point about standards. Perhaps I can give some reassurance by saying that, like the UK, New Zealand is a global leader in animal welfare, and both countries share a commitment to further improving and advancing our already high animal welfare standards. For example, the UK and New Zealand have both banned the use of sow stalls for pork production, and battery cages will be banned in New Zealand from 2022, having been banned in the UK from 2012.
The noble Lords, Lord Grantchester and Lord Purvis, raised a point about the TAC. We know that it has just been set up, but I give the reassurance that we believe that it has been appointed and set up at the right time. Free trade agreement negotiations continue up until the moment of signature, and the commission will have ample time to do its job and report on the final deal. However, the TAC’s role is not, and never has been, to advise on live negotiations; it is a bit a further down the line.
The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, asked about rules of origin—I think he mentioned geographical focus. The rules of origin should ensure that only products made in the UK and New Zealand benefit under the agreement in principle, create opportunities for UK and New Zealand businesses to source better and cheaper inputs than currently and provide modern and predictable rules, making it as simple as possible for businesses, particularly SMEs, to trade with New Zealand using the preferential tariffs.
I think that there were other questions raised. I hope that I have covered some of them, but I appreciate the points raised. I shall look at Hansard and make sure that I write if I have to.
My Lords, notwithstanding what the noble Viscount has just said, and I am grateful to him, this is not yet a done deal. It is aspirational, and I would be grateful if he would recognise the need for small farms, especially up here in the Yorkshire Dales, where I live, which are the lifeblood of our food industry, to get a fair deal from this proposal. As we have heard, we have extremely high animal welfare and food standards in this country, so will the Government promise to prevent anything entering the UK from New Zealand or elsewhere which does not comply with those standards?
Yes, we are continuing to give reassurance to UK farmers, and I hope that we will succeed in the end. The noble Baroness makes a very good point about standards. The Animal Protection Index, for example, ranks both our countries highly compared to others around the world across a range of animal welfare indicators. Both the UK Government and the New Zealand Government have a long-standing recognition of the sentience of animals. The UK and New Zealand already have a veterinary equivalency agreement, meaning that we already trust and recognise its animal health standards as equivalent to the UK’s.
I wonder whether my noble friend accepts that we are going to ask our farmers to take on very considerable responsibilities if we are to have any chance whatever of meeting net zero, yet in this agreement we are not in any sense saying that the farmers of New Zealand have to meet the same standards. The New Zealand Government have not placed on their farmers the same standards that we are going to place on ours. For that reason, this runs wholly contrary to what the Government said they would do, from that Bench, when we had the discussions about trade. I am sure that my noble friend will understand how suspicious we have to be given that the Government actually removed from the Australian agreement the tough words about the agreement in Paris six years ago. Unless the Government can show that all trade agreements will have a serious part concerned with climate change, we really cannot ask our farmers to do what they have to do and then find them undermined by imports from countries that are not doing the same thing.
I hope that I can give my noble friend some reassurance, because the UK’s climate change and environmental policies, including in trade negotiations, are some of the most ambitious in the world, reflecting our commitment as the first major economy to pass new laws for net-zero emissions by 2050. On his points about the deal, this trade agreement with New Zealand is one of our greenest ever. It includes a ground-breaking chapter that reinforces our commitment to the Paris temperature goals and our efforts to meet net zero. It encourages the growth of a clean economy and demonstrates our global leadership on climate and environmental protection. This agreement will encourage trade and investment in low-carbon goods, services and technology. It will demonstrate global leadership in climate and environmental protection, but it includes commitments on urgent environmental challenges such as marine litter, sustainable agriculture, air quality and the transition to a circular economy.
My Lords, as president of the CBI, I was proud to play a role in helping both the Australia and New Zealand free trade agreements. The Australia one was negotiated and achieved in 365 days. It is an ultramodern, comprehensive, super-duper FTA, with goods, services, innovation, SMEs, IP, data and mobility. Can the Minister confirm whether the New Zealand FTA is as super-duper and comprehensive as the Australia one? Secondly, the Australia FTA now allows 18 to 35 year-olds from the UK and Australia to work, live and travel in each other’s countries for three years. Does the New Zealand deal also offer this facility to UK and New Zealand citizens?
I hope I can reassure the noble Lord that this is a comprehensive deal. Many working groups have brought it to this stage, which is an agreement in principle. To reassure the House, this stage is now leading to signature and, once signed, the deal will be presented to Parliament. I am sure the noble Lord and others will have the chance to debate it.
It is very much part of the deal to allow greater flexibility for individuals to travel between the two countries. It will allow families, for example, to travel to New Zealand and stay there for a time. To answer the noble Lord’s question, that period of time is yet to be clarified, but it is part of the deal. I am sure it will be greatly beneficial to those doing business from the UK to New Zealand, and vice versa.
I declare an interest as the very new chair of the International Agreements Committee, which looks forward to scrutinising the deal in due course, once we have the detail. I hope the Government will make the text available in good time for us to do our work and report to the House, and that the noble Lord, Lord Grimstone, will engage in the committee’s dialogue on it. I also hope that, when we see the explanatory memorandum, it sets out the detail with the devolved Governments in full, and that the consultation with them will not be limited simply to devolved competences but will include areas of particular pertinence to their special economies. I hope the noble Lord confirms that that is possible.
The International Agreements Committee will shortly be asking for evidence and input about the deal, including for consumers, which I hope goes further than just the Marlborough sauvignon blanc and posh honey mentioned in the Statement, as there are more serious things. Perhaps the Minister could help our committee by encouraging any who put their views on the deal to the DIT also to share those views with our committee, as they will feed into our scrutiny.
This allows me, from the Dispatch Box, to congratulate the noble Baroness on her new appointment. I hope to answer some of her questions on our engagement with the devolved Administrations. I also reassure her that the devolved Administrations received a draft copy of the AIP document 24 hours in advance of publication, and received a final AIP document and explainer in advance of publication on the evening of 20 October. I further reassure the noble Baroness and the House that, as with other free trade agreements, we have been regularly consulting with the devolved Administrations through chief negotiator briefings and the senior officials’ group—which is not naming names, but naming “nearly” names. I hope that helps. The point is that through this process we have understood the devolved Administrations’ priorities in the specific negotiations and have shared texts related to areas of devolved competence.
I will briefly quote my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, who said in the other place during her Statement that conversations took place with Ministers in the devolved Administrations on 20 October
“to really get a sense of, and to encourage, the exciting opportunities that now exist with the agreement in principle.”—[Official Report, Commons, 21/10/21; col. 937.]
As we move from the AIP to signature, there will be refinement to ensure that the concerns and issues specific to the devolved nations are resolved in the final deal.
My Lords, my noble friend is aware that hill farming and sheep production are the backbone of the rural economy in the north of England and other parts of the United Kingdom. I read with great interest in the explainer published by the Government on their website on 20 October that the chapter on animal welfare
“will set out how New Zealand and the UK will uphold their respective animal welfare standards”.
And so it goes on. Will that be complete before the agreement is laid before Parliament, so that we are able to scrutinise it? Will my noble friend commit to maintaining the Government’s manifesto promise to maintain our high standards of animal welfare and not be undercut by imports?
I pay tribute to the then Agriculture Secretary, Elizabeth Truss, who set up the first ever agricultural attaché in China, which brought enormous benefits—to the tune of a 21% increase in the export of pig parts that are not appreciated by the British public. We have now lost that trade. I understand that New Zealand has a wide network of export support that is, in part, supported by its own Government. How wide is our support to help our farmers boost their farm exports to New Zealand?
On undercutting, I reassure my noble friend that British farmers should not be concerned. I acknowledge that price is an important factor in consumer choice, but it is not just about price, as buying local is also a significant determinant. There are strong buy-British trends in the UK, and support for British farmers. Some 81% of retail sales of beef in the UK are under the British logo, with Aldi, Budgens, Co-op, Lidl, M&S and Waitrose all using 100% British beef. There should be some reassurance on that front and from bearing in mind the amounts that are likely to come from New Zealand compared to the EU, say.
I cannot give any guarantee on timings but I take my noble friend’s point. I will just finish with the reassurance that maintaining our high standards of animal welfare is a red line in all our trade negotiations. We will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare or food standards, including in any deal that we agree with New Zealand.
My Lords, I declare an interest, as a member of my family is an arable farmer in Scotland. As I listened to the Minister expounding the merits of these two agreements, it occurred to me that we have not heard much recently about the—to coin a phrase—super-duper trade agreement we were promised with the United States. What progress is being made on that agreement and when may we expect an announcement containing the necessary information from the Front Bench opposite?
The noble Lord draws me into a different area and he would not expect me to have any answers on that. The House knows that we very much hope for a deal between the UK and US to be forthcoming at some point. It is true to say that there is no inkling that this will happen soon, but we know that discussions continue and that the Prime Minister discussed this with President Biden when he was last over—whenever that was. That is as far as I can go and the noble Lord probably knows everything that I said.
My congratulations go to our new Secretary of State, my noble friend Lord Grimstone and the Minister on this new deal. I am also glad to hear of support for trade with the Commonwealth and ASEAN markets. Of course, we trade very well with the United States, even in the absence of a trade agreement. I have two points. First, with the opening up of trade, which I strongly support, our farmers will need to be more productive, especially our small farmers, whom we have heard about. Will they be given more help to become efficient? I am concerned that farming policy now seems to be all about rewilding and wildlife, which will not make us as competitive as we need to be in the new world.
Secondly, I was very glad to see in the announcement about the new Trade and Agriculture Commission, which the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, referenced, that the UK will be working with our trading partners on tackling antimicrobial resistance, which is a real threat to mankind. If this effort fails, it could be worse than the pandemic in hitting the young and the vulnerable. Was AMR, as I think we call it, part of the discussions with New Zealand?
Those are two very specific questions. My noble friend is right that, at the end of the day, this proposed deal—the agreement in principle—represents two staunch democracies working together to meet global challenges, from climate change to the future of digital trade. There is a symbiotic relationship in embracing the opportunities of the global marketplace, with both countries supporting jobs, enterprise and wealth creation.
I will certainly have to write to my noble friend on AMR. On her first question on trade, she is absolutely right, and I am sure the farming community would agree as well, that efficiency is an important part of ensuring that community and farming organisations are fit for purpose to be better able to export to places such as New Zealand. I know that there are vehicles for that and I will certainly be writing to my noble friend to give her the detail, which I suspect will come from my colleagues in Defra.
My Lords, I find much good material in this Statement. Is it an FTA template for the future? I also recognise the concerns of some who have spoken this evening. There was reference to the CPTPP. I hope that New Zealand will enhance our application to join that club. Perhaps that message should be put through to the powers that be in New Zealand. On tariff removals, attention is drawn to the vital area of digital trade, with specific reference to being able to
“deepen access for our … tech … companies”.
That was music to my ears. However, to take the point of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, on bringing the ratification process before Parliament, with respect to the Minister, the Government have a patchy record in this regard, if I can put it that way. The whole process would be enhanced if the Minister would go back and just jolly it along.
I thank the noble Viscount for his questions. He mentioned the CPTPP—I know it is quite difficult to say—which is an important part of this. I say again that we are very excited about it, with the possibility that it takes us a step further towards our accession. There is much work to do before we are allowed in, I am sure, but joining will mean more opportunities for British exports to those high-growth markets. We must remember that there is already a Japan deal and one with Mexico, and we now have the AIP with Australia and New Zealand. We are inching our way towards it and I appreciate the noble Viscount’s point.
On the deal itself, I am not sure whether “template” is the right word. I am certain that when one starts off with a proposed deal, there are some basic requirements. However, as I said earlier, this is a comprehensive agreement in principle. It is also the result of a lot of hard work from working groups. I suspect that the template may still be there, but this is a specific deal with New Zealand.