Not smart idea!' UK farmer lashes out at New Zealand trade deal
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Boris Johnson and New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, agreed the pact in a video call on Wednesday after 16 months of negotiating. The Department for International Trade heralded the agreement as a “groundbreaking achievement” – but what the UK public will noticeably gain from the deal seems to be unclear.
Boris Johnson said: “This is a great trade deal for the United Kingdom, cementing our long friendship with New Zealand and furthering our ties with the Indo-Pacific.
“It will benefit businesses and consumers across the country, cutting costs for exporters and opening up access for our workers.
“This is a fantastic week for Global Britain. On Tuesday we raised almost £10bn in investment for the industries of the future, and this new deal will help drive green growth here and on the other side of the world in New Zealand.”
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said: “It’s one of our best deals ever and secured at a crucial time in our Covid recovery.”
“This deal will cut costs for exporters immediately, creates opportunities for New Zealand businesses to grow and diversify their trade, while boosting the economy as we recover from Covid-19.”
What’s in the deal?
The deal will remove tariffs that are currently as high as 10 percent on a range of UK goods, including clothes, ships, buses and bulldozers.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the prize of New Zealand produced Manuka honey, kiwi fruits and sauvignon blanc will dip.
It will also make it easier for professionals such as lawyers and architects to move and practice in New Zealand.
However, the deal is not expected to add any value to the UK’s GDP.
Analysis by the UK government conducted last year found that a New Zealand deal would have a “limited effect … in the long run” on the UK’s GDP, being between a positive growth of 0.01 percent or negative growth of -0.01 percent.
Trade between the two countries is worth £2.3 billion a year – but even this only translates to a tiny 0.2 percent of the UK’s overall trade.
What’s more, farmers are worried it will lead to more imported food in the UK, and whether these will meet the standards UK farmers are held to.
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Minette Batters, the National Farmers Union president, said: “We should all be worried that there could be a huge downside to these deals, especially for sectors such as dairy, red meat and horticulture.
“The government is now asking British farmers to go toe to toe with some of the most export-oriented farmers in the world, without the serious, long-term and properly funded investment in UK agriculture that can enable us to do so.
“It’s incredibly worrying that we’ve heard next to nothing from government about how it will work with farming to achieve this.”
The shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry echoed the concern of UK farmers.
She said: “It is a deal whose only major winners are the mega-corporations who run New Zealand’s meat and dairy farms, all at the expense of British farmers who are already struggling to compete.
“But for British jobs, growth and exports, this deal is yet another massive failure.”
The deal is the latest in a string of free trade agreements struck by the UK Government, including Japan and another in principle with Australia.
Mr Johnson’s focus on the Far East region of the globe is part of a 10-year plan to tilt the UK’s foreign policy toward the Indo-Pacific, strengthening ties with democratic countries in the area to make them more competitive against China.
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