UFU chief welcomes TAC report on standards

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says it is pleased that the report issued by the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) highlights the importance of safeguarding the UK’s agri-food production as well as product standards when pursuing an independent trade policy.

Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 9:06 am

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “I was pleased to have been a part of this Commission and I believe that it has reconciled a wide range of diverse views and delivered a set of constructive recommendations.

“The key area for the UFU has always been to ensure that our standards were not undermined and while it is recognised that the UK government will take an open and liberalising approach to trade negotiations, we are particularly encouraged that the clear position from the Commission was to safeguard important standards. The Commission has recommended that the UK government should maintain special WTO-compliant safeguard measures such as excluding valuable domestic markets from market access offers or limiting access through tariff rate quotas with the possibility of also using additional safeguard measures for sensitive sectors. The TAC has also highlighted the need for the UK to use its influence to strengthen international standards.

“The government has already agreed to both extend the role of the TAC and place it on a statutory footing. Also, to ensure that there is parliamentary scrutiny of individual trade deals, but we fully support the additional Commission proposals for earlier and more thorough engagement during the negotiation processes for these trade deals and the undertaking of wider related impact assessments. This will create more transparency with trade deals going forward.”

The TAC also recommends a review of public procurement and the improvement of country-of-origin information for food service and out of home supply chains.

“In the area of exports, the recommendations include the creation of a Ministerial role to lead on agri-trade, the establishment of a UK-wide Food and Drink Export Council, the expansion of the network of agri-food experts in overseas markets and prioritising the removal of access barriers in other countries as well as enhanced promotional activity.

“If taken on board, the recommendations will provide a solid foundation for conducting fair and transparent trade deals that will benefit our wider public, consumers, farmers and growers.

“Ultimately, the trade-offs and difficult decisions about how to manage all of these wide-ranging issues remain for the government to address but I hope the Commission’s report provides a framework to fashion future policy in a way that maximises the upsides and minimises the downsides. We now wait for the government to set out how it is going to respond to this report and its recommendations,” said Mr Chestnutt.