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The UK has signed a free trade deal with New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern, which the Government says will cut red tape and boost British exporters and small businesses, but the country’s farming union has warned that there are “huge downsides” for food producers.
The trade agreement will end tariffs on UK exports and make it easier for small UK businesses to break into New Zealand. According to the Government, trade with New Zealand was worth £2.3bn last year, and the country’s import market is set to grow by around 30% by 2030.
Trade in food and drink with New Zealand was worth more than £661m in 2020, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF). Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at the FDF, said manufacturers would “benefit from an ambitious trade deal with New Zealand that removes a range of tariffs that currently constrain exports. Significant growth opportunities exist as UK production becomes more competitive in the New Zealand market”.
However, NFU president Minette Batters said that like the Australian trade agreement, the deal could have “huge downsides” for dairy, livestock and horticultural sectors. “The announcement of this trade deal with New Zealand, coupled with the Australia deal signed earlier this year, means we will be opening our doors to significant extra volumes of imported food – whether or not produced to our own high standards – while securing almost nothing in return for UK farmers.”
She said this could “damage the viability of many British farms in the years ahead, to the detriment of the public, who want more British food on their shelves, and to the detriment of our rural communities and cherished farmed landscapes”. The NFU called on the Government to explain how the deals would tangibly benefit farming, the future of food production and the UK’s high food standards.