Bosses from Welsh meat promotion body Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) and trade association Dairy UK have told MPs trade deals with New Zealand and Australia should not be prioritised after Brexit.
Kevin Roberts, HCC chair, and Peter Dawson, policy director at Dairy UK, made the remarks during an International Trade Select Committee evidence session.
Trade Secretary Liam Fox has repeatedly spoken of ‘reinvigorating’ the Commonwealth partnership and told MPs deals with New Zealand and Australia are ‘top priorities’ for the Government.
But Mr Roberts suggested there would be few opportunities for the UK in signing agreements with the two countries.
“I do not see them as priorities”, he said.
“I can understand why there would be opportunities for Australia and New Zealand. It poses threats in the short-term for our sector.
“If I had the call on where we would be looking for free trade agreements, it would be where there are growing populations and growing consumption, not just of agricultural products but of all products, so I would be looking at China and the Far East.”
Mr Dawson agreed, claiming there would be greater benefits for British producers in deals with Canada, America and China.
“At the moment, there are no significant impediments to trade with either Australia or New Zealand”, he added.
“Tariffs are low or non-existent, the regulatory barriers are surmountable and we are trading with and exporting to those countries.
“I do not think a free trade agreement would actually improve the commercial position of the UK dairy industry in those two markets.”