Briefings for Britain, May 6 2022, Catherine McBride
The UK would benefit from importing the food that New Zealand produces more efficiently than the UK or the UK’s other suppliers, if we would only drop our tariffs and quotas. And let’s stop pretending these restrictions are there to help UK farmers – we are already importing these goods in massive quantities from the EU. The loser is the UK public.
The outgoing Australian High Commissioner, The Hon George Brandis QC, complained in an interview with the Financial Times that he was ‘aghast’ at the ‘culture of fear of global trade’ among UK farmers. I am not sure that the farmers are the culprits, it could have been the trade negotiators but if Brandis was aghast by the UK Australian trade deal, the UK New Zealand trade deal does nothing to assuage his judgment.
The UK New Zealand Free Trade Agreement should have been the easiest in history. The two countries have a shared history, culture and language and each country exports what the other imports. However, while New Zealand has removed tariffs on all UK goods, the UK has not returned the compliment. Even though the UK is not able to feed its population without imported food, and three quarters of New Zealand’s exports are agricultural goods, the UK will only gradually lower its high tariffs on these goods over 4 or 8 years and will only increase its small quotas over 5 to 16 years. Why would any nation that relies on imported food do this?
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