Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has voiced concern about the UK’s newly signed trade deal with New Zealand, which has already been condemned by the National Farmers’ Union Scotland. Figures released on Monday show officials expect agriculture and other food related sectors to take a roughly £150 million hit from the new agreement. The deal overall is not expected to have a significant impact on the UK economy, with an expected GDP gain of between 0.02 per cent and 0.03 per cent by 2035 – a total of around £12 per person by that date – and estimates on the lower end of expectations in fact showing a potential decline in GDP due to increased competition.
The deal will next face scrutiny by the Trade and Agriculture Commission before further debate in Parliament.
NFUS president, Martin Kennedy noted:
“As with the Australian deal, a cap on tariff-free imports is merely a slow journey to allow New Zealand, a major exporter of food and drink, unfettered access to food and drink UK markets.”
Mr Carmichael said:
“It is quite extraordinary that the government is barrelling forward with a trade deal that by its own estimates will have a negligible impact on the UK economy at best, and at worst may actually hurt the UK economy, particularly for farmers and crofters. I have to hand it to the government – it takes some creativity to craft a trade deal that could actually be worse than the status quo.
“Such a deal cannot be done in the dark. It is concerning that the chair of the International Trade Committee has said today that his committee received details of the deal after they had already been leaked to the press. When the deal comes to Parliament for full scrutiny it cannot simply be treated as a rubber stamp by the government.
“Along with the questionable priorities shown in the negotiation of the Australia deal, there is a pattern that has been forming for some time, of a Conservative government that has entirely lost interest in the needs of farmers and the wider rural community. Whatever the reason, farmers and crofters cannot afford to be left behind by the government again.”