The chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee has called on the Government to ensure future trade deals do not disadvantage UK farmers.
The EFRA Committee met with US Secretary for Agriculture, Sonny Perdue this week to discuss the key challenges and opportunities for UK-US agri-food trade following Brexit.
EFRA chair Neil Parish MP said: “We had an open and constructive conversation with Secretary Purdue. The domestic US market presents significant opportunities for the UK food and farming industry, and following Brexit the Government should focus on securing a great bilateral trade deal with our US partners.
The Committee also raised the importance of maintaining food standards in any trade deal with the US.
Mr Parish MP said: “We must ensure that a trade deal protects UK consumers and maintains a level playing field for our own producers. Food safety and animal welfare standards must upheld in any future Free Trade Agreement.”
The discussions explored the US view as to how the current EU-wide Tariff Rate Quotas, which allow a set amount of certain food products such as meat to be imported under low or zero tariffs, should be split with the UK after Brexit.
Mr Parish said: “It really matters to UK farmers and consumers that agreement on Tariff Rate Quotas is reached quickly with World Trade Organisation countries – including the US. The outcome will significantly affect the competitiveness of goods produced in the UK and have an impact on wider trade negotiations. Today’s discussion with Senator Purdue demonstrates the priority which representatives from both the US and UK give to finding a mutually acceptable approach to this issue. ”
The EFRA Committee launched a Brexit: Trade in Food inquiry into the impact of Brexit on the UK’s agri-food industry in September. It will look at key issues such as standards and tariffs.