A top New Zealand diplomat has said the Government’s Chequers plan will make it very difficult for the UK to join an Asia-Pacific trade group.
Former Trade Minister and high commissioner to the UK, Sir Lockwood Smith, made the remarks in an opinion piece written for the Conservative Home website.
The Chequers plan, set out in more detail in the Government’s Brexit White Paper, proposed a ‘common rule book’ on agri-food which would see the UK continue to apply EU regulations covering human, animal and plant health.
But Ministers have also recently launched a consultation proposing UK accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which covers 11 countries with very different food production standards, including Malaysia and Vietnam.
Now Sir Lockwood has suggested the Chequers plan effectively rules out any possibility of the UK joining CPTPP.
He wrote: “Joining will be difficult if the UK ends up in some halfway house, without complete control over its regulatory system.
“Member countries are required to pursue good regulatory practice, and ensure their customs procedures are applied in a way which is predictable, consistent and transparent.
“Food safety and biosecurity measures must not create unjustifiable obstacles to trade and must be based on sound science.
“If Brexit results in the Chequers approach, with the regulations dictated from Brussels, it is difficult to see how the UK could meet these important requirements.”
Sir Lockwood’s intervention comes shortly after a leading trade expert warned joining CPTPP would mean the UK would have to lift the EU’s ban on hormone-treated beef.
Writing for Farmers Guardian’s Brexit hub, director of the UK Trade Policy Project and former Department for International Trade official David Henig said: “The UK Government is signalling it is open to changing food standards in order to deliver trade agreements.
“The Government will I am sure be aware we would need to lift the existing EU ban on hormone-treated beef to join TPP, though you will not find this in the consultation document.”
To read Mr Henig’s Brexit hub piece in full, click HERE.