Welsh Farmers left with no protection with UK-New Zealand trade deal, says Plaid Cymru
Plaid Cymru has expressed significant concerns about the new trade deal stuck between the UK and New Zealand.
The pro-independence party argues that the trade agreement looks set to open the doors to an influx of cheaper food at a lower standard, which could potentially hit the farming sector in Wales harder than in any other part of the UK.
Farming union NFU Cymru has recently raised concerns about the deal, stating that its potential negative impact cannot be overstated.
The New Zealand trade deal follows another similar deal with Australia.
According to Plaid, while it offers significant upsides for farmers on the other side of the world, it potentially creates significant marketplace changes for Welsh farming.
Plaid Cymru’s Agriculture Spokesperson, Mabon ap Gwynfor MS, has raised the issue as a matter of urgency with the Welsh Government in the Senedd.
Mabon ap Gwynfor MS 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 90% 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.
“The UK Government needs to conduct a full impact assessment of these trade deals on Welsh Farmers, who are far more susceptible to damage from a poor trade deal with New Zealand and Australia than other farmers in the UK.”
The Welsh Government’s Minister for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “Yes, I do. I think it is that cumulative impact, because it’s very clear to us and probably to your party, and certainly to the stakeholders we spoke to, that one of the things we were very concerned about with the Australia deal is that it would set a precedent and you can see now with the New Zealand deal that that is absolutely the case.
“So, I do think that an assessment is needed. Now the deal has been signed, obviously our officials and I need to scrutinise that next chapter. But we warned them; this is what we told them would happen.
“We’re very concerned about the animal health and welfare standards and the environmental standards. I think New Zealand have very similar standards to us, if not higher, perhaps, in some cases, where Australia certainly doesn’t.
“But it is that cumulative impact—you know, what’s the next trade deal going to do? So, I think it is important that we monitor it very carefully. We repeatedly raised concerns with the UK Government about this, but I’m afraid they haven’t listened to us.”
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