Flaws in the UK / New Zealand trade deal exposed by separate EU arrangements
In a BBC interview, Chris Southworth, the director of the International Chamber of Commerce, has sided with UK farmers who are claiming that the new UK / NZ trade deal is flawed and potentially damaging to UK food and farming interests.
Southworth said that he questioned whether, when negotiations between the UK and EU started, that the UK’s approach to securing a trade agreement had been about “speed over quality of deal.” He added: “The UK is prone to doing trade deals too fast, and not spending enough time on quality and outcomes.”
Speaking on the Farming Today programme, when asked if the UK-New Zealand trade deal left British farmers at a disadvantage compared to EU farmers, Southworth said: “If you look at the EU deal overall, I think it is fairer for EU farmers.
“They are much tighter on quotas. The UK has put a 15-year tariff framework in place, when tariffs are being phased out; then after that it is total liberalisation.”
He went onto explain that the terms of the EU’s latest trade deal with New Zealand were quite different to that agreed between New Zealand and the UK.
He said: “If you compare [the UK deal] against the EU, it’s quite interesting; because they have a phasing [period] of seven years to reduce tariffs, followed by a cap on those tariffs.
“What that means for the beef trade, for instance, is that you end up at a place where it’s 0.16% total production per head, which is 10,000 tones of beef going into the EU from New Zealand. Whereas at the end of 15 years, it is 6.7% in the UK, and then total liberalisation.”
He added that a “conscience decisions [has been] made, where unfortunately the pain is felt more by farmers, whereas the gains in the deal are in other parts of the economy.”
Southworth asserted that the UK sheep industry would be worse off than the beef sector as a result of the UK-New Zealand trade deal. He said that import volumes on sheep meat from New Zealand to the UK could be “40 times higher per head”, followed again by total liberalisation of tariffs after the agreed 15-year period.