Anne-Marie Trevelyan said there will be ‘protections’ for farmers written into the agreement.
The Trade Secretary said there “isn’t a downside” to the UK-New Zealand trade deal as she was challenged by MPs about the impact the agreement will have on British farmers.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan looked to allay fears that New Zealand meat produce could flood the UK market after the two countries reached an agreement in principle on a free trade deal last month.
The Government has said the deal will cut red tape for businesses and end tariffs on exports but the National Farmers’ Union has warned there is a “huge downside” to the accords with both Australia and New Zealand.
International Trade Committee chairman Angus MacNeil added to that criticism during a hearing on Wednesday, telling the Cabinet minister he believed Wellington was “30 times happier” about the terms of the bilateral trade deal than the UK.
But Ms Trevelyan – who was promoted to her Cabinet job during the September reshuffle – told the Commons committee the deal was “great” for farmers and that “protections” for the sector would be written into the terms.
“I think this is great for farmers and I think it is a fantastic deal for removing tariffs on all food and drink exports, from gin and chocolates, to pork and wine,” she said.
“There is a great range of liberalisation on all of those.
“We will include protections for our agriculture industry where there are sensitivities – a range of tools to defend British farmers against any unfair trading practices that could lurk, and those things like tariff liberalisation on sensitive goods like beef and lamb will be staged over time.
“That creates a level of protection… I’m very comfortable that it is a good deal.”
By Press Association / LBC