The UK Government has announced a trade agreement with New Zealand. It is claiming the deal will 'cut red tape' for businesses, which suggests there might be some harmonisation on standards. It also claims the deal will end tariffs for UK exporters and make it easier for UK professionals to work in New Zealand.
The second post-Brexit trade deal was reportedly agreed in a video call today (20th October) between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, after 16 months of trade talks.
There was little mention of access to the UK market for agricultural produce such as lamb but the Government is claiming the deal will make wine, honey and kiwi fruits cheaper.
Vicki Hird, Head of Sustainable Farming at Sustain said:
“Yet again we are seeing trade deals done without adequate scrutiny or impact assessments. New Zealand still permits the routine antibiotics use on farms as well as their use as a growth promoter, a practice outlawed in the UK. Latest data also shows sales of farm antibiotics have been increasing in New Zealand.* They also permit the use of 35% more highly hazardous pesticides than in the UK (99 in NZ versus 73 in UK) and pesticide residues on food at much higher levels than the UK – in some instances hundreds of times more.
“The UK Government rejected the calls from more than 2m people in 2020 to protect food and farming standards from bad trade deals in law. Instead they promised to put in place a Trade and Agriculture Commission to review proposed deals. But they have now signed deals with Australia and New Zealand and have yet to respond to the final report from the interim Commission in March 2021 which called for food standards to be protected (echoed subsequently in the National Food Strategy) or put the full, legal body in place. It is hard to see how parliamentarians will be able to scrutinise this deal properly without the promised expert analysis. This raises serious questions about the government’s manifesto commitment to protect standards in trade.
“The Government needs to respond with all due haste to the original Trade and Agriculture Commission report, put a full commission of experts in place and establish a core set of food, farming, environmental and animal welfare standards that imports must meet, all before these deals are finalised.”
*We are adding this clarification in order to address some ambiguity in the original wording.
New Zealand still permits the use of some antibiotics not currently used in human medicine at growth- promoting dosages, as well as the use of medically critical antibiotics to prevent infection at the site of hormone injections in cattle. The UK bans the use of hormones in cattle. Data shows a trend of increasing sales of farm antibiotics in New Zealand between 2014 and 2017, although this dropped back by 3% in the latest available year (2018). A more detailed comparison of standards is available via the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics.
Published 20 Oct 2021
Good Trade Campaign: Campaigning for good trade that benefits people and the planet at home and overseas.
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