The full impact of the UK’s new trade deals with Australia and New Zealand depends on how markets in Asia perform, a committee of MPs has been told.
“While trade keeps very good in Asia, these trade deals will have minimal effect in NI,” said Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president Victor Chestnutt.
Speaking to Westminster’s NI Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Chesnutt pointed out that New Zealand’s lamb exporters have not been utilising their existing quota for the UK market in recent years.
“But why were they not happy with the quota they already had? Why did they ask to get the flood gates opened?
“I think that is the danger. If the markets they are now supplying take a wobble, they are going to send it to the UK. Then it will be a flood,” he warned.
They seem to have been in such a rush to leave Europe that they wanted a trade deal at all costs
Chestnutt was highly critical of how the UK government handled trade negotiations with both Australia and New Zealand.
In particular, he expressed disappointment at how the UK’s trade negotiators engaged with representatives from the local food and farming sectors.
“They seem to have been in such a rush to leave Europe that they wanted a trade deal at all costs,” the UFU president suggested.
MPs were told that food producers in Australia and New Zealand fall short of NI standards when it comes to the likes of animal welfare, traceability, environment, and antibiotic usage.
“In NI, our relative production standards tend to go way beyond those that are necessarily required for basic international trade,” said Ian Stevenson from the Livestock and Meat Commission.
“The fear is that the consumer is presented with two products on the shelf at two different price points without knowledge of the integrity platform that has gone into making that product,” added Michael Bell from the NI Food and Drink Association.