You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Britain worries about NZ lamb imports

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/02/2017 Jack Maidment

The British government must ensure any future free trade agreement with New Zealand protects local farmers against cheap lamb imports, the country's opposition Labour party says.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced earlier this year that she wants to strike a trade deal with New Zealand when the UK leaves the European Union. New Zealand is keen for such a deal and Prime Minister Bill English was in London last month promoting the idea.

But Labour's shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner warns any agreement must not damage the interests of British sheep farmers.

"New Zealand is a land of 30 million sheep, six or seven sheep for every person, so has the secretary of state discussed the impact of a trade deal with the leader of the National Farmers' Union?

"They regard the combination of a 43 per cent WTO tariff on sheep meat and increased market access for New Zealand as potentially fatal to our sheep farmers.

"How will the minister protect them?"

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox says the concerns of the farming industry will be reflected in negotiations.

Responding during international trade questions in the Commons, Mr Fox said that would be an important part of discussions.

"We will want to discuss with the NFU and others how we do that.

"But we also need to take into account something that doesn't seem to be mentioned very often which is the interests of UK consumers in any trade deal that we come to."

Mr Fox also confirmed he intended to visit New Zealand "over the summer months" when he is expected to begin a bilateral dialogue with the aim of striking a trade deal.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon