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NFU president Minette Batters is feeling more optimistic about the prospects for British farmers over the UK’s accession to a trans-Pacific trade bloc.
According to national media reports, the UK government is set to reach an agreement in principle in the coming days to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The Indo-Pacific trading bloc consists of 11 countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
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Speaking at Reading University on Tuesday 7 March, Mrs Batters said she had been concerned that the UK government wanted to join the CPTPP on fully liberalised terms for agriculture, which “would have had a huge impact”.
But following discussions held with the government last week, this now did not appear to be the case.
“It’s not going to be a liberalised deal at all now,” said Mrs Batters. “I’m led to believe from my conversations with Number 10 at the end of last week that they will be looking at examples of TRQs [tariff rate quotas] on beef, as an example, of 13,000t, and 26,000t on poultry.
“There will be offensive opportunities for dairy, such as milk powder, of getting market access into Canada and Mexico. It looks a lot, lot better than it did.”
Mrs Batters said Canada was “pushing hard” to export its hormone-treated beef to the UK, but this was a “red line for government” which it “dare not do” because it would have a serious effect on domestic beef production.