Government proposals to join a Pacific trade group would mean an EU ban on hormone-treated beef would have to be lifted, according to a leading trade expert.
David Henig, director of the UK Trade Policy Project and former civil servant at the Department for International Trade (DIT), made the remarks in an exclusive article for Farmers Guardian’s Brexit hub.
His comments follow the recent launch of a Government consultation which proposed UK accession to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The agreement, which is signed but not yet in force, covers 11 countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam.
The Government has suggested joining TPP could secure access to new markets for UK exporters and ‘give consumers access to a greater range of products at lower prices’.
Mr Henig said: “The UK Government is signalling it is open to changing food standards in order to deliver trade agreements.
“Alongside consultations on individual countries, one has been launched on the UK joining the TPP.
“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.”
Earlier this year, the NFU expressed concerns about plans to join TPP, saying high standards could be protected more easily by adopting the EU’s existing trade arrangements with countries in the TPP bloc.
The union’s Brexit advisor, Lucia Zitti, also warned some TPP members such as New Zealand and Australia have ‘great offensive interests’ when it comes to agriculture and any preferential trade agreements could ‘flood’ the UK market with imports.
A DIT spokesman said: “This Government has been clear the UK will not lower food, animal welfare or environmental standards as part of any future free trade agreement.
“We welcome input from a range of voices to our ongoing public consultations to ensure any free trade agreement is in keeping with domestic priorities.
“We will publish our outline approach to each potential agreement in due course, once the consultations have concluded.”
To read Mr Henig’s Brexit hub piece in full, click HERE.