The NFU is also urging the government to create an export platform that maximizes opportunities to sell more British products abroad.
Large-scale tariff liberalization and significant increases in imports could put strong pressure on farm gate prices, potentially to levels that cause significant harm to agricultural businesses. This is because many farmers in countries with which the UK has trade deals operate on a much larger scale and can use products banned in the UK, reducing production costs.
There is an urgent need for the UK government to present its plan to ensure that its own domestic agricultural industry is not damaged by current or future trade deals, to seize the opportunities of our new independent trade policy and to ensure that trade deals negotiate Governments do not undermine our country’s high agricultural standards and do not reward or encourage lower standards abroad. This should include:
- Carrying out a rigorous economic assessment of the expected cumulative impact of free trade agreements on UK agriculture.
- Publishing its response to the Trade and Agriculture Committee report of March 2021, in particular how it intends to pursue a liberalized trade policy as well as its assurances not to compromise our high standards.
- Establish a detailed export strategy that includes co-financing for export promotion and market development, and investment in foreign trade diplomacy.
- Develop a comprehensive strategy to improve the productivity and competitiveness of UK farmers.
- Establish a clear and explicit process for reviewing the impact of our free trade agreements.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “Looking at the recently announced agreement between the UK and Australia, the duty-free access granted to Australian farmers up front is incredibly important. We have repeatedly expressed our concerns about this level of tariff liberalization on sensitive sectors, such as beef, lamb and sugar, and the subsequent impact this could have on domestic producers if they are under- quoted by imports.
“These are huge volumes and it is not at all clear that the guarantees that have been announced will have an effect. For example, the fifth year of the lamb tariff safeguard would only begin if Australian producers have already shipped more than 150% of the UK’s current import requirements. It is unclear whether it is the British lamb producers or the carrying capacity of our docks that are really backed up here.
‘As the final details on how tariff rate quotas (TRQs) are administered and how safeguards work are negotiated, I expect the government to engage immediately with the UK food and agricultural industry to ensure that these aspects of the agreement as effective as possible. In particular, imports of sensitive products such as beef, lamb and sugar subject to tariff quotas or subject to safeguards must be managed in such a way as to minimize distortion of the domestic market.
“Just over a year ago, over a million people filed their names on a petition demanding that trade agreements not compromise our high standards of production. It remains to be seen how the government keeps its promise to the nation, and this million people in particular, not to harm our farmers when we look at the details of this deal.
‘It is imperative that the government explains how it will work with UK farmers, so that they can continue to produce the high quality food the public wants in the face of the potential huge volumes of imports being produced in systems. very different that the public wouldn’t want. endure if they were adopted by British farmers.
“We recognize the benefits of having independent trade deals and being able to sell our fantastic UK products overseas, but this needs to be accompanied by a strategy that details how we are going to improve our trade diplomacy, including boots on the ground focusing on agri-food exports alongside measures to improve the productivity and competitiveness of UK agriculture.
“The NFU and its members are ready to work with this government to make trade successful and something that can work for both parties.”