In a BBC interview, Chris Southworth, director of the International Chamber of Commerce, sided with UK farmers who say the new UK-New Zealand trade deal is flawed and potentially damaging to UK food and agricultural interests.
Southworth said he wondered whether, when negotiations between the UK and EU began, the UK’s approach to securing a trade deal had been focused on “speed rather than quality of the agreement”. He added: “The UK has a tendency to do trade deals too quickly and not devote enough time to quality and results.”
Speaking on the farming today programme, when asked if the UK-New Zealand trade deal put UK farmers at a disadvantage compared to EU farmers, Southworth said: ‘If you look at the EU as a whole, I think it’s fairer for EU farmers.
“They are much tighter on quotas. The UK has a 15-year tariff framework in place, when tariffs will be phased out; then after it is total liberalisation.
He went on to explain that the terms of the latest EU trade deal with New Zealand were quite different from those 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] seven years to reduce rates, followed by a cap on those rates.
“What this means for the beef trade, for example, is that you end up at a place where the total production per head is 0.16%, or 10,000 tonnes of beef entering the EU from the New Zealand. While after 15 years, it is 6.7% in the United Kingdom, then total liberalization.
He added that an “awareness of the decisions [has been] done, where unfortunately the pain is felt more by the farmers, while the gains from the deal are in other parts of the economy.
Southworth claimed the UK sheep industry would be worse off than the beef sector as a result of the UK-New Zealand trade deal. He said sheep meat import volumes from New Zealand to the UK could be “40 times higher per head”, followed again by full tariff liberalization after the agreed 15-year period.