Unions warn New Zealand trade deal will hit Welsh farmers hard
Plaid Cymru politicians and farming unions have warned that the new trade deal between the UK and New Zealand could significantly impact Welsh farmers.
The free trade agreement between New Zealand and the UK Government, signed on 28 February, is expected to lead to a significant increase in the import of meat produce.
Fearing this is likely to hit the farming sector in Wales harder than in any other part of the UK, NFU Cymru has said that the potential negative cumulative impact of the deal cannot be overstated.
Along with the Australian deal, the New Zealand trade agreement stands to create significant marketplace changes for Welsh farming, while offering benefits for farmers on the other side of the world.
According to the Farmers Union of Wales state the agreement could result in the tariff free beef imports from New Zealand rise immediately to 12,000 tonnes, increasing to 38,820 tonnes in ten years’ time.
Similarly, tariff-free imports in the lamb market would increase by 35,000 tonnes per annum in years one to four, then by 50,000 tonnes per annum in years five to 15, after which there would be no limit.
Further rises would occur in the subsequent five years, after which there would be no limit.
Speaking in Wales Farmer, Plaid Cymru’s agriculture spokesperson, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, raised the issue as a matter of urgency with the Welsh government in the Senedd.
Mr ap Gwynfor said: “While the spin will be about benefits, the truth is that this trade deal is a real cause for concern for Welsh farmers.
“The agreement will provide a 15-year transitional period, and it states that they will only be able to ‘utilise new access to the UK sheep meat market once they have filled 90pc of their existing World Trade Organization (WTO) quota’.
“However, this leaves Welsh farmers at the whim of a market whereby they have no control nor input. Should something change in the sheep meat market then New Zealand meat would suddenly end up here or in the EU and undermine Welsh farmers.
“By failing to ensure that there are tariffs on imports here the UK Government have left Welsh farmers completely open to the whims of a market which they have no say and no protection.
Cefin Campbell, Plaid Cymru Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales, added: “Let us be clear, this trade deal is a gross betrayal of Pembrokeshire farmers.
“The UK Government’s own analysis suggests that the number of people working in agriculture will be negatively impacted by this deal, whilst it also threatens to undermine the entire Welsh agriculture sector – which we know is far more susceptible to harm from a poor trade deal than other farmers in other parts of the UK.
“As we face a climate emergency, importing more food from the other side of the world that could be produced sustainably here in Wales, does not make any sense whatsoever.
“Clearly, efforts must now be taken at Westminster to ensure that the Welsh farming sector is safeguarded from the potential negative impact of this agreement.”
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