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31st March 2023
The NFU has cautiously welcomed the new deal with the CPTPP, saying it could provide opportunities for getting more British food on plates overseas.
Rishi Sunak has announced a deal to join a free trade area of 11 countries spanning the Indo-Pacific – the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
More than 99% of UK goods exported to CPTPP countries will be eligible for zero tariffs, including key exports such as cheese, machinery, gin and whisky.
The NFU said the deal is “far more considered and balanced” than the controversial deals with Australia and New Zealand, which offer unfettered access, phased in over time, to the UK’s agri-food market for a variety of products. These deals have prompted significant concerns that the UK could become flooded with cheap imports, shortchanging British farmers.
Negotiations to join the CPTPP began in June 2021 and concluded after a round of talks in Vietnam earlier this month. The UK will be the first new member of the bloc since it was created.
Dairy farmers could benefit from lower tariffs on exports of products like cheese and butter to Canada, Chile, Japan and Mexico, the government said.
NFU president Minette Batters commented: “Joining the CPTPP could provide some good opportunities to get more fantastic British food on plates overseas.
“Compared to the deals struck with Australia and New Zealand, I am pleased to see that the Prime Minister has stuck to his word and the government has negotiated a far more considered and balanced outcome, particularly with respect to managing market access in our most vulnerable sectors.”
She also welcomed the government’s commitment to food safety standards. “It is an absolute red line for us that food produced using practices that are illegal here – for instance, the use of hormones in beef and pork production and chemical washes for carcases – should not be allowed on our market.”
The CPTPP is home to 500 million people and will be worth 15% of global GDP once the UK joins. The government estimates that joining will boost the UK economy by 1.8 billion in the long run.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “We are at our heart an open and free-trading nation, and this deal demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms. As part of CPTPP, the UK is now in a prime position in the global economy to seize opportunities for new jobs, growth and innovation.
“Joining the CPTPP trade bloc puts the UK at the centre of a dynamic and growing group of Pacific economies, as the first new nation and first European country to join. British businesses will now enjoy unparalleled access to markets from Europe to the south Pacific.”
The UK and CPTPP members will now take the final legal and administrative steps required for the UK to formally sign in 2023.