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Publication of Bold and Ambitious Report by Trade and Agriculture Commission Welcomed

Creating trade opportunities and protecting standards at its core

NFU Scotland has broadly welcomed the Trade and Agriculture Commission’s report to government, published today (2 March 2021) as being both bold and ambitious.



In July 2020, the Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss MP established the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) as an independent body of experts to advise the government on how best to advance the interests of UK farmers, food producers and consumers in future trade agreements.  Its membership includes Andrew McCornick, immediate past President of NFU Scotland.  TAC Chair Tim Smith recently addressed NFU Scotland’s virtual conference on 10 February.

The commission was established after a high-profile nation-wide petition on protecting British food standards secured more than one million signatures and its creation was set against a backdrop of COVID-19 and EU Exit.  

The report sets out principles, objectives and a strategy for the development of a long-term UK agri-food trade policy which balances liberalisation of trade with protection and recognition of UK standards and fair competition.

NFU Scotland President, Martin Kennedy said: “The TAC is to be congratulated on setting out a bold and ambitious vision for future UK trade in agri-food products that has the interests of food producers, food consumers, animal health and welfare, plant health, and the environment front and centre.

“Under astute chairing by Tim Smith, the TAC has set out clear principles and recommendations to the UK Government.

“There can be no doubt that our immediate past President, Andrew McCornick, has ensured that the interests of Scotland’s farmers, crofters, consumers and environment can and should be enhanced via the TAC report and that devolved matters within UK trade negotiations must be respected.  Not for a second has Andrew allowed Scotland’s interests to be marginalised, and that is evident throughout the TAC report.

“If fully heeded, those principles and recommendations will establish a solid foundation for enduring, fair and transparent trade deals that will inevitably have significant agri-food components. There is also the desire to modernise international governance of such deals to reflect animal welfare, plant health and Climate Change ambitions and the expectation from the public that these will be elements of future trade arrangements.

“NFU Scotland wholeheartedly agrees that UK trade policy must enable a fair and safe farming system for all - with no race to the bottom or erosion of standards - and an ambition to play a leading role in international agricultural issues.

“The TAC has unequivocally identified the need for government and parliament to ensure a competitive farming sector whilst providing sustainably produced affordable food.  NFU Scotland looks forward to the Secretary of State’s response to the recommendations, expected later this week, and we will play our part in ensuring that principles and recommendations are turned into intentions and practice.”  

Notes for Editors

  • The Trade and Agriculture Commission report can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/trade-and-agriculture-commission-tac
  • The principles it suggests that should guide government and that the UK should aim for are:
    • Promote the liberalisation of trade, to positively influence innovation and productivity, and price and choice for consumers.
    • Prioritise a thriving domestic agri-food sector supported by complementary domestic and trade policies.
    • Ensure that agri-food imports meet relevant UK and international standards on food safety and biosecurity.
    • Match tariff-free market access to relevant climate, environment, animal welfare and ethical standards, remedying competition issues arising where permitted imports do not meet relevant UK and international standards.
    • Lead change, where needed, to the international framework of rules on trade and relevant standards, to address to global challenges of climate change and environmental degradation.
    • Support developing countries in accessing the full benefits of the global trading system.
  • To realise a vision of an ambitious trade policy that respects these principles, the report sets out a series of recommendations for action in 5 areas.
    • First, that the UK government should develop a bold, ambitious agri-food trade strategy, which would include a liberalised approach to opening up trade combined with a safeguarding of standards.
    • Second, that the report’s vision requires strong international leadership by the UK on climate, environment, animal welfare and ethical trade.
    • Third, that the UK government should continue to strengthen its approach to the negotiation of Free Trade Agreements.
    • Fourth, that the UK government should put more energy and resource into market access, export promotion and marketing.
    • Fifth, that the UK government should align its trade, aid and climate policies in relation to developing countries.
  • A photograph of former NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick, who represents NFU Scotland on the Trade and Agriculture Commission is attached.


Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 34/21


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