Plaid Cymru call for assessment of impact of post-Brexit trade deals on Welsh economy
Plaid Cymru has accused the UK Government of securing “tiny trade deals” as a result of a ‘frenzied dash for glossy headlines’ and is calling for an economic assessment on the impact of post-Brexit trade deals on the Welsh economy.
The calls come ahead of a Westminster debate today (12 December) on the Australia and New Zealand deals, with Plaid Cymru proposing an amendment to the Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill calling for the assessment.
The party’s International Trade spokesperson, Hywel Williams MP said that “rather than plug the Brexit-sized holes in trade, these tiny trade deals could actually have a negative impact on key Welsh sectors like agriculture.”
The Welsh Government says neither the Australian or New Zealand deals provide any significant opportunities for Welsh agricultural producers and that the increased market access for Australian and New Zealand producers presents a number of concerns.
NFU Cymru and the Farmers’ Union of Wales say the negative impact estimated for agriculture will likely be disproportionately felt in Wales compared to other parts of the UK because of its reliance on beef and sheep meat.
Plaid Cymru’s amendment calls for an assessment of the impact of the procurement chapters of the New Zealand and Australia FTAs on Wales’ economic sectors.
The UK Government has refused to give Parliament scrutiny powers over the trade deals in their entirety, but the procurement sections of the trade deals require new primary legislation to provide for their implementation.
Last month the UK Government’s, former Secretary of State for Agriculture George Eustice told MPs that the UK “gave away far too much for far too little in return,” in the deals, despite starting negotiations “with the strongest possible hand”.
He also said that negotiators were undermined by former Foreign Secretary Liz Truss demanding that a deal with Australia be struck before the G7 summit in Cornwall in June 2021.
Mr Eustice also told Parliament that Australian negotiators had been allowed to “shape the terms” of the agreement and called for the Department for International Trade’s head to be sacked, saying now was “a good opportunity to move on and get a different type of negotiator in place – somebody who understands British interests better”.
Mr Williams said these “rushed” trade deals should be a “lesson for the UK Government” and that the Welsh Government must be given a say “if we want trade deals that enhance – not undermine – our local economies”.
“The Australia and New Zealand trade deals are the result of a frenzied dash for glossy headlines without a thought about the impact on Wales or the wider UK economy. Rather than plug the Brexit-sized holes in trade, these tiny trade deals could actually have a negative impact on key Welsh sectors like agriculture,” he said.
“The UK Government’s refusal to give MPs and the devolved legislatures proper scrutiny powers over post-Brexit trade policy leaves Wales vulnerable to these damaging Free Trade Agreements. Just last month, the former Environment Minister George Eustice reminded us how important proper scrutiny is when he criticised the Australia FTA for giving too much away.
“Evidence from the Farmers’ Union of Wales shows that the UK’s trade deal with New Zealand is 40 times worse for Welsh farmers than the EU-New Zealand deal. Westminster has categorically failed to fight for the interests of the Welsh economy.
“These rushed trade deals should be a lesson for the UK Government; the Welsh Government must be given a say if we want trade deals that enhance – not undermine – our local economies”.
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