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UK's new Trade and Agriculture Commission hopes to boost farm exports

26 October 2021

UK ministers are building on the recommendations made by the first Agriculture Mission, takings steps to safeguard animal welfare and address antimicrobial resistance in trade agreements.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has launched a new strengthened Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC), as part of the Government’s response to the previous Commission’s recommendations.

Chaired by Lorand Bartels, Professor of International Law, the new TAC will provide expert scrutiny of new trade deals once they reach the signature stage, helping ensure world-leading British agricultural standards are upheld.

The Government is also setting out more detail on measures being introduced to support farmers, in response to recommendations in the original TAC report. They include a new cohort of international "agri-food attachés" who will work around the world to promote export opportunities for UK farmers and producers, providing market intelligence and technical expertise.

There will also be a new Food and Drink Export Council to work in collaboration with industry and governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to promote exports from all parts of the UK, helping to level up the country.

The response reconfirms that maintaining the UK’s high standards will be a red line in all our trade negotiations, with no compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare or food standards. Any deal we sign with other countries will include protections for the agriculture industry, and we have a range of tools to defend British farming against any unfair trading practices.

Trade and Agriculture Commission Chair Professor Lorand Bartels said:

I am looking forward to getting started in the role and working with my new colleagues, who bring a wide range of expertise from different fields that will be of great benefit to the Commission.

The Commission has an important role to play in the scrutiny of new Free Trade Agreements and it’s exciting to be involved as the UK forges new trading relationships all around the world.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

We welcome the contribution that the TAC report has made as we consider future trade policy and the approach that we will take to ensure that our high standards of food safety are maintained.

The new Commission will have a formal role to inform Parliamentarians and the public about how new Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are consistent with UK laws on animal welfare, animal and plant health, and the environment. Its members have expertise across the agricultural, food production, veterinary, animal welfare, environment and international trade policy sectors, among others.

The TAC’s advice will inform a government report which will be laid before Parliament ahead of the ratification of any new FTA and following the signature stage.

Other commitments in the Government’s response to the original TAC include going further than ever before to work with trading partners on animal welfare and tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in our trade agreements, and using our influence in multilateral organisations to push for improved environmental and animal welfare standards in food production.

The Government’s response builds on the steps already taken to deliver for UK farmers:

  • Earlier this year, the highly successful Open Doors campaign was launched to help the industry seize new opportunities through trade agreements with priority markets
  • Government is targeting opportunities in lucrative high-growth markets where demand for British exports is growing, including countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) which are projected to account for 21% of global import demand for meat by 2030
  • The UK recently secured better access to lucrative markets such as Japan for UK poultry and Mexico for UK pork, and made progress removing trade barriers which hold back our farmers, such as the US ban on British beef

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