Sheep trade deals with New Zealand and Australia ‘present the biggest risks’ – NSA

Domestic sheep farming must be safeguarded amongst future trade deals with New Zealand and Australia.

This was the message delivered by the National Sheep Association (NSA) to the International Trade Select committee at a meeting this week.

The NSA said that “establishing new trade deals is a central part of UK government strategy and relates closely to our departure from the EU”.

However, they are looked on across all business sectors, finance, IT, data, manufacturing and agricultural produce and it is therefore inevitable that trade-offs between these sectors come into play, putting the UK sheep industry in a vulnerable position, the organisation says.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker gave evidence at an International Trade Select committee on Wednesday, September 23, examining the impact of these trade deals, speaking alongside trade researchers and think tanks, and representatives of other industries.

Stocker said:

“For our sheep farming sector the trade deals with New Zealand and Australia probably present the biggest risks – these two countries along with the UK are the world’s three biggest players in sheepmeat exports – so there are similarities.

But the difference is that, of the three nations, due to the size of our population, the UK is the only one that also imports significant volumes of sheepmeat – a free trade deal with either of these countries for sheepmeat simply means one-way trade.

“At a time when our established trade with the EU is under threat, a trade that takes 35-40% of all UK sheepmeat produced and totalling 96% of the total UK sheepmeat exports, we must be aware that we could suddenly have little choice but to be more reliant on our domestic market.

“So, to be discussing any increase in access or liberalisation of trade between us and the two largest sheepmeat exporting nations can only cause concern within our industry,” Stocker concluded.