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Farming leaders warn of New Zealand threat to Scottish agriculture

FEARS: The deal will see all quotas on lamb lifted after 15 years.

Farming leaders claim the viability of Scottish farming has been threatened by the free trade agreement the UK has signed with New Zealand.

NFU Scotland (NFUS) says the major exporting nation has been given unfettered access to the UK yet offers virtually nothing to Scottish farmers, growers and crofters in return.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

NFUS was reacting to the news that International Trade Secretary and New Zealand minister for trade and export growth Damien O’Connor will sign the deal on Monday.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) said the trade relationship between the two nations, which was worth £2.3 billion in 2020, would be boosted by 60%.

The Government said the deal was “the most advanced agreement New Zealand have signed with any nation bar Australia” and heralded it as “one of our greenest deals ever”.

However it will see the UK potentially open up its borders to huge volumes of imported food, a significant proportion of which will have been produced in systems very different from here.

Sheep production in New Zealand.
Sheep production in New Zealand.

The deal will see all quotas on lamb lifted after 15 years, but before that there will be a quota of 35,000 tonnes for the first four years, then 50,000 additional tonnes thereafter.

However, the quota will only be accessible once the existing quota that the country has through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of 114,000 tonnes is filled to 90%.

Officials have said Wellington uses only half of its WTO quota at present.

NFUS president Martin Kennedy said: “Our fears that the process adopted by the UK Government in agreeing the Australia deal would set a dangerous precedent going forward have just been realised.

“Having now signed off on a similar deal to grant unfettered access to New Zealand, another major food exporting nation, the cumulative impact of all such deals on farmers and crofters will be substantial.

“As with the Australian deal, a cap on tariff-free imports is merely a slow journey to allow New Zealand, a major exporter of food and drink, unfettered access to food and drink UK markets.

Martin Kennedy says Scottish farmers are ambitious to build their industry.
Martin Kennedy says Scottish farmers are ambitious to build their industry.

“We are ambitious to identify and grasp opportunities to build our industry and wider economy and our reputation for world class produce. Trade deals could be an enabler of this, but it is going to require investment and collaboration between UK Government and the industry; collaboration which does not exist at present.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “This deal will slash red tape, remove all tariffs and make it easier for our services companies to set up and prosper in New Zealand.

“Our trade with New Zealand will soar, benefiting businesses and consumers throughout the UK and helping level up the whole country.

“Like all our new trade deals, it is part of a plan to build a network of trade alliances with the most dynamic parts of the world economy, so we set the UK on a path to future prosperity.”

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