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Government commitment to food safety standards
The UK government has recently announced that it has signed a deal to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade bloc. The CPTPP consists of 11 countries from across the Pacific region such as Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, New Zealand and more. Namely, the deal aims to eliminate tariffs on UK exports to these markets, lowering costs for consumers and businesses.
The UK International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, has said, “Joining the CPTPP will create enormous opportunities for UK businesses that simply weren’t there as part of the EU and deepen our ties with some of the fastest-growing markets in the world.” Truss also highlighted that the membership of the CPTPP will be an important stepping stone for the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
However, critics argue that allowing the CPTPP is a security threat. Critics say that the bigger significance is on defence and security. It is said that China already sees the trade bloc as an impediment to its ambitions of regional dominance, and the fact that the UK is now part of it will deepen that perception. Some also state that the country had no long-term strategic reason to join the CPTPP that justifies potentially critical concessions.
Opportunities for agriculture sector
On the other hand, the UK National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has welcomed the news of the UK joining the CPTPP. The NFU President, Minette Batters, has stated, “I am pleased that our government continues to maintain its commitment to our 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.”
Additionally, the NFU has an ambition to grow the country’s food exports by 30% by the end of the decade. Joining the CPTPP could offer opportunities to grow our dairy exports to the Americas, poultry to Vietnam, and sheep meat to Malaysia. However, farmers have also expressed concerns over these opportunities because it could risk domestic production standards and failing to prevent lower-standard imports.
This deal is significant for the UK as it reconciles its economic policy with its defence policy. Now, the UK is taking a concerted line against China, which it sees as a long-term strategic challenge. However, the membership could expose UK farmers to challenges and risks that could jeopardize domestic production standards and regulations. Overall, the news of the UK joining the CPTPP still needs amendments, and we will have to see how the UK will negotiate the finer details in the months ahead.