NFU chief warns of farmers ‘red line as she reacts to mega trade deal

Kemi Badenoch says UK joining CPTPP is ‘very big deal’

Britain’s farmers have welcomed the news that the UK is to join a powerful Asian-Pacific trade pact which also counts Japan, Mexico and Australia as members. However, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Minette Batters also warned any drop in food standards – in relation to hormone-treated beef for example – would represent an “absolute red line” for her and her members.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today announced it had clinched an agreement after almost two years of negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, signalling the biggest new trade deal since quitting the bloc in 2020.

The deal, which the government estimates will boost the UK economy by £1.8billion “in the long run”, cuts tariffs on British dairy products and other goods including cars, chocolate and whisky, and slashes red tape for services.

Ms Batters told “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.

“I will continue to press government to ensure its domestic policies are aimed at improving the competitiveness of British farming and strengthening our domestic food security.”

Reacting to the confirmation from the government that bans on hormone-treated beef remain in force, Ms Batters continued: “I am pleased that our government continues to maintain its commitment to our food safety standards.”

However, she also sounded a note of caution, saying: “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 carcasses – should not be allowed on our market.”

Speaking to GB News, Shanker Singham, Trade Fellow at the Institute for Economic Affairs, said: “The significant thing is the UK is the first accession country.

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“And so the UK is really demonstrating its global trade leadership for the rest of the world.

“They’ve heard a lot about global Britain. They’ve heard a lot of the rhetoric.

“This is the first time the actual execution matches the rhetoric and it’s been noticed and Rahm Emanuel who was the Obama Chief of Staff, not necessarily somebody who’s going to embrace the UK’s global Britain vision, said that this this UK accesession means that the Indo Pacific and the Atlantic are is, to use his word, ‘singular’.

“The is a major event globally.”

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Trumpeting the agreement, Mr 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.”

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