The shadow Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) has said setting high UK import standards in trade deals can benefit developing countries both economically and environmentally.
The Future British Standards Coalition (FBSC) was set up to explore ways to protect standards in trade deals after concerns were raised about the weakness of the official TAC established by Government.
Now the group, made up of representatives from farming bodies, public health practitioners, caterers and food and animal welfare experts, has published an interim report.
The paper points to ‘compelling evidence’ from India of the benefits of insisting on high import standards, where the state of Punjab decided to ban the use of nine pesticides to boost Basmati exports to the EU and UK market.
But just last week, in the House of Commons, Trade Secretary Liz Truss claimed a blanket ban on low-standard imports would prevent developing countries, such as Kenya, from exporting their foodstuffs to the UK.
Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of food and farming alliance Sustain, said: “Liz Truss is finally admitting that the price of a trade deal is lower food standards, using developing countries as a shield to fend off opposition.
“Yet there are plenty of examples of developing nations meeting British food standards and increasing their market opportunities, with their own farmers, consumers and environments benefiting as a result.
“As the Government rightly acknowledges, high standards are good for people and nature here; and this is true for people in developing nations as well.”