Secretary of State for International Trade, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has written to the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) to request advice on the UK's recently signed trade deal with New Zealand (NZ).

In the letter sent yesterday (March 3), Trevelyan asks Prof. Bartels, TAC chair, for advice on whether, or to what extent, the measures in the UK-NZ free trade deal (FTA) that are applicable to trade in agricultural products are consistent with the maintenance of UK levels of statutory protection in relation three areas.

These areas are animal or plant life or health; animal welfare; and environmental protections.

Specifically, Trevelyan said she "envisages" that the TAC will conduct a chapter-by-chapter assessment of the deal with the above in mind.

She asks for - where relevant - the following questions to be debated:

  1. Does the UK-NZ FTA require a change to UK domestic statutory protections in relation to animal or plant life or health; animal welfare; and the environment?
  2. Does the UK-NZ FTA affect the UK government’s ability to set statutory protections in these specified areas?
  3. Does the UK-NZ FTA underline any existing UK domestic statutory protections – or in some instances go beyond them – in relation to: animal or plant life or health; animal welfare; and the environment?

It is anticipated that the concluded advice will be laid out before Parliament and Trevelyan asks the committee's report to be submitted no later than June 16.

UK-NZ trade deal

A free trade deal between the two countries was signed on February 28, by Secretary Trevelyan and NZ's Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O'Connor, in London.

Welcoming the deal, Secretary Trevelyan said it will "slash red tape, remove all tariffs and make it easier for our services companies to set up and prosper in New Zealand".

“Our trade with New Zealand will soar, benefiting businesses and consumers throughout the UK and helping level up the whole country," she added.

However, the reaction to the deal by the agricultural community has thus far, been negative.

Commenting on the deal, president Minette Batters of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) said it appears to be extremely little in the deal to benefit British farmers.

NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said much the same, that it offers "virtually nothing to Scottish farmers and crofters".

According to the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW), the "winners in this deal will clearly be New Zealand".

"It [the deal] allows them to up their exports of food to the UK, representing a major threat to Welsh and GB farmers as well as to our food security," said FUW president Glyn Roberts.

National Sheep Association (NSA) chief executive Phil Stocker said the deal "is opening ourselves up to a level of risk that could come and bite us in years to come".