Following the announcement of an outline trade deal between the UK and New Zealand, Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has expressed concern over the need to ensure a level playing field for farmers and the availability of sustainable lamb and beef for consumers.
The trade agreement is set to immediately increase access to the UK market for New Zealand beef, and also remove all restrictions on meat imports within 15 years.
Tariff-free imports of beef will increase straight away from 454 tonnes to 12,000 tonnes, before rising to 60,000 tonnes over 15 years. New Zealand already has the right to export 114,000 tonnes of lamb to the UK without tariffs. The deal will give an additional allowance before restrictions are completely removed in 2036.
HCC Chief Executive Gwyn Howells said,
“As expected, the generous outline trade agreement with Australia has set a precendent for other countries to demand similar unrestricted access to the UK market.
“In terms of lamb, although volumes of New Zealand lamb imports in recent years have been below their allowed quota, an unlimited supply from New Zealand in future is a potential threat if there is any disruption in their other export markets in Asia and the Americas. In terms of beef, this deal will mean an immediate increase in global competition for domestic producers.
“Wales does not fear trade – we produce high quality red meat which can compete with any in the world. But such generous Free Trade Agreements threaten to distort the market.
“Increased imports from the other side of the world make no sense in terms of the environmental footprint of our food, and meat produced in the southern hemisphere is often not produced to the same standards of animal welfare, and has lower standards of traceability than Welsh lamb and beef.
“Welsh red meat is some of the most sustainable and ethical in the world. Buying Welsh Beef and Lamb means supporting world-leading sustainable farming and benefits rural communities, British farmers and consumers. We want to encourage more people to eat red meat that is produced this way.”