The UK and New Zealand are now in agreement about a post-Brexit free trade pact which will expand on the existing £2.3bn of trade. Imports of wine, honey and kiwi fruit will become cheaper, but farming bodies have raised concerns about this deal claiming it will pave the way for lower-quality products to enter Britain.
The UK and New Zealand agreed a free trade agreement this week with Boris Johnson claiming the deal will cut costs for exporters.
The PM added the agreement would open up New Zealand’s job market to UK professionals.
The UK Government hopes the deal is a step towards joining a trade club with countries like Canada and Japan.
Only a tiny proportion of trade currently takes place with New Zealand (less than 0.2 percent) – worth £2.3bn a year.
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Negotiators from each nation met in Belfast this week to agree a free-trade agreement.
The city was deemed a middle-ground for Matt Davies and Brad Burgess as the latter serves as New Zealand’s ambassador to the Republic of Ireland.
The deal is seen as a key sign of putting past disputes to bed.
The bad blood between the UK and New Zealand was sparked in 1973 when Britain announced it would join the European Economic Community, the EU’s precursor, meaning all trade with its significant Commonwealth ally came to an end.
The trade which took place with Wellington at that time was by no means insignificant and in fact, accounted for around half of Kiwi exports.
Farming and agriculture organisations have raised concerns the deal could hurt UK farmers and lower food standards, but International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Travelyn has been keen to disavow these communities of this fear.
Minette Batters, the National Farmers Union president, said the deal could open Britain’s doors to “significant extra volumes of imported food” while “securing almost nothing in return for UK farmers”.
She said: “We should all be worried that there could be a huge downside to these deals, especially for sectors such as dairy, red meat and horticulture.
“The Government is now asking British farmers to go toe to toe with some of the most export-oriented farmers in the world, without the serious, long-term and properly funded investment in UK agriculture that can enable us to do so.
“It’s incredibly worrying that we’ve heard next to nothing from government about how it will work with farming to achieve this.”
The deal may boost New Zealand’s GDP by $970m or around 0.3 percent.
However, UK Government analysis from last year indicates the impact of such a deal for Britain would have a “limiting effect” in the longer term with positive or negative growth of 0.01 percent expected.
The agreement marks a major step in Britain’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which is worth more than £8trillion in global GDP as of 2020.
Joining the CPTPP is a key aim for the UK and would mean the nation could export more than ever to a collective marketplace of more than half a billion people, driving forward the UK’s economic recovery and levelling up the country with high-quality jobs.