UK trade policy is a new and constantly changing process and Wales’ farmers and politicians will yet have multiple opportunities to help shape UK trade deals over the next ten years, according to a UK trade expert.
“The current EU trade deal is very thin and right now we are seeing the effect of that in exports - but, be aware, the terms of the deal are unlikely to stay where they are long term," said Paul McGrade, a former EU adviser to two Prime Ministers at the Cabinet Office, Foreign Office and European Commission
He told this to red meat industry representatives at the Hybu Cig Cymru-Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) annual conference in Builth Wells.
It may feel bad right now - that the Westminster government isn’t listening to anyone with regard to trade deals - but it’s not likely to be fossilised where it is at the moment.
"There is still a lot to play for over the next three to five years and maybe even over the next 10 years.”
He said he knew the industry carried concerns over the possible undermining of standards and that it sought a ‘level playing field’ with importers
“It’s a difficult one to play but, there is still much to be gained," he added.
I’d suggest farming representatives try to make sure they are not able to be written off by government because it thinks ‘they are not on our side.’.
To do this, it’s important to try to avoid concentration of attention on the negatives of imports instead of taking into account the, perhaps longer term, opportunities within trade deals.”
McGrade said there were strands of hope for everyone:
“Farming here has a unique hold on the public imagination and that gives tremendous leverage to allow it shape policy over the medium and longer term.”