Current trade negotiations: government is ‘presently’ not adjusting its food welfare and safety standards to align with the US
Last week Rachel Wearmouth reported that UK chief trade negotiator Oliver Griffiths, in a letter to his US counterpart, agreed that anyone given access to information about any agreement reached will be warned that they cannot share it with the public. Moreover, the information will be held in confidence for five years after a US-UK trade agreement enters into force, or five years after the close of negotiations – a proposal made during the failed TTIP negotiations between America and the EU.
The government said agreeing terms on confidential documents was standard practice and that negotiators had committed to updating the public after every round of talks.
Liz Truss, international trade secretary, is overseeing the UK-US negotiations.
Today, an FT article reports that Liz Truss (Department for International Trade) is preparing to offer a “big concession package” to US negotiators and drawing up plans to slash tariffs on US agricultural imports, despite concerns from some ministers and Conservative MPs about the damage they could cause to British farming.
This measure has divided Conservatives; it is said to be opposed by Cabinet office minister Michael Gove and environment secretary George Eustice, who is concerned that cheaper US goods may undercut UK farmers. The FT also reports that senior DEFRA figures are concerned that reducing tariffs could be “the thin end of the wedge”, leading to further UK concessions on animal welfare standards, but officials added that government was ‘presently’ not adjusting its food welfare and safety standards to align with the US.
Nick von Westenholz (above), director of EU exit and international trade at the National Farmers’ Union, said that any concessions UK negotiators give on market access must be accompanied by clear conditions on how those goods have been produced, in line with the government’s own red lines in trade negotiations, repeated in their 2019 election manifesto. The Tory pledge:
“In all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards.”
Posted on May 14, 2020, in Agriculture, Brexit, Business, Environment, EU, Food, Health, Outsourcing and tagged Animal welfare, Cabinet office minister Michael Gove, DEFRA, Department for International Trade, environment secretary George Eustice, food standards, high environmental protection, MP Liz Truss, NFU, Nick von Westenholz, TTIP. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.