In the evidence we outlined that the trade deal between the UK and New Zealand contains very few benefits for Welsh farmers who are being asked to go toe–to–toe with some of the most cost-effective food producers in the world.
Over 90% of the beef and over 95% of the lamb New Zealand produces is exported.
NFU Cymru is not opposed to free trade, but we do believe that deals must be balanced in respect of offering reciprocal benefit. In this deal when it comes to agriculture, it appears that New Zealand has achieved all it asked for and Welsh farmers are left wondering what meaningful benefits have been secured for them. This will just heap further pressure on farm businesses which are already facing serious challenges such as shortages of labour and rocketing input costs.
New Zealand is a powerhouse on the global market and its farmers predominantly produce for the export trade – over 90% of the beef and over 95% of the lamb it produces is exported.
Owing to Welsh agriculture’s reliance on one or two key sectors - namely livestock and dairy - and the typically smaller size of our average farming business, this agreement, which sees all tariffs on agriculture products eventually phased out, risks having a disproportionate impact on Wales compared to the rest of the UK. Miss Morgan therefore reiterated the union’s call for a Wales-specific impact assessment for free trade agreements, including the UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.
A proper understanding of the implications of future trade deals can only follow a deep and meaningful examination of their content. Without such an examination there is a serious risk of doing great damage to Wales’ rural communities.
Fit for purpose
Miss Morgan also told the committee that when it comes to mitigating the impacts of this trade deal along with coping with the uncertainty presented by rising input costs the Welsh Government has a responsibility to ensure future policy is fit for purpose. With Welsh Government set to take the Agriculture (Wales) Bill through the Senedd this year, we believe there is opportunity to look again at how future agriculture policy can continue to underpin sustainably produced, climate-friendly Welsh food and support our rural communities, against the backdrop of the UK Government’s trade policy, a pandemic and a post-Brexit environment which continues to challenge and re-shape our food supply chains.
Welsh food and drink exports
On growing exports of Welsh food and drink, Miss Morgan told the committee that there is great opportunity out there but investment in trade diplomacy is key if inroads are to be made in new and emerging markets. We understand the UK Government is in the process of recruiting eight new attachés which we welcome but even then, we still trail behind other nations.
To enable Welsh food and drink businesses to capitalise on new export market opportunities we would expect the UK and Welsh Governments' food and trade divisions to work together.