The UK’s trade deal with New Zealand is expected to damage Britain’s farming industry, the government’s own impact analysis reveals.
According to data published this week, food-related sectors will lose £150 million because of the agreement, and the overall gain to the UK economy will be of only £12 per person by 2035, The Independent has reported.
The government’s newly-revised impact assessment said: “The economic benefits of FTAs do not arise without reallocation of resources within the economy, sometimes referred to as the gains from greater specialisation.
‘Fuelling the climate crisis whilst undermining UK’s sustainable farming’
“The process of economic adjustment gives rise to adjustment costs for affected sectors, businesses, and their employees.
“The overall structure of the UK economy remains broadly unchanged by the agreement.
“However, part of the gains results from a reallocation of resources away from agriculture, forestry, and fishing (around -£48 million) and semi- processed foods (around -£97 million).”
Katie White, of environmental charity WWF, said the New Zealand trade deal “opens the door to food produced in ways that harm nature and fuel the climate crisis, undermining the UK’s own transition to more sustainable farming”.
And NFU president Minette Batters condemned the “extremely little” benefits to UK farmers, hitting out at the government essentially “asking British farmers to go toe-to-toe with some of the most export-orientated farmers in the world” – but without a “properly funded” farming industry.
The deal will ‘actively damage UK farmers’, Lib Dems say
Liberal Democrat trade spokesperson Sarah Olney said the government’s deal will “actively damage the UK’s farming communities and will bring next to no tangible benefits to our economy.”
“The economic benefits are a drop in the ocean and they will do nothing to mitigate the damage from the red tape and paperwork caused by Boris Johnson’s shambolic EU trade deal,” she added.
But international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan insisted the deal will cut red tape, remove tariffs and “make it easier for our services companies to set up and prosper in New Zealand.”
She said soaring trade with New Zealand will benefit both businesses and consumers in Britain and help the country to “level up”.
“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,” she claimed.
A Department for International Trade spokesperson said: “British food and drink are among the best in the world. Our deal with New Zealand will be fair and balanced and in the best interests of the whole of the country.
“It includes protections for the agriculture industry and tariff liberalisation for sensitive goods will be staged over time, giving UK farmers time to adjust.
“A deal with New Zealand is also a stepping stone to joining the £8.4 trillion CPTPP trade bloc, where demand for British beef is increasing, and will mean more opportunities for British exports to those high growth markets.”
Related: Watch: New Zealand deal makes ‘sacrificial lambs’ of UK farmers, says New Zealand