The Somerset Guardian, 3rd July 2020

This week, the Department of International Trade (DIT) announced that a Trade and Standards Commission has, in principle, been established.  The Commission will make recommendations for United Kingdom (UK) agricultural trade policy, higher animal welfare standards across the world and export opportunities for British farming.

In a letter written to the President of the National Farmers Union (NFU), the Secretary of State, Elizabeth Truss, outlined the parameters for a setting up a commission 'subject to agreement on terms of reference', stressing that the Commission should not be another quango or regulator, that there ought to be a strict time limit allocated to its work and as soon as the Commission has finished its assignment it will produce an advisory report that will be presented to Parliament by the DIT.

According to the Secretary of State, the Commission should focus on four areas. First, it will be asked to consider the policies that the Government should adopt in free trade agreements to ensure that UK farmers are not subjected to unfair competition. Second, it should reflect consumer interests and those of developing countries. Third, it will examine how the UK engages with the World Trade Organisation to facilitate the collective enhancement of higher animal welfare standards across the world. Finally, it will assist in developing trade policy that identifies and creates new export opportunities for the UK agricultural industry, focusing particularly on small and medium-sized businesses thus benefitting the whole UK economy. 

The Secretary of State has made it clear that she agrees with the NFU that “any trade deal the UK strikes must be fair and reciprocal to our farmers, and must not compromise on our high standards of food safety and animal welfare" and that we must “continue to fight for the interests of our farming industry in any and all trade agreements we negotiate.”

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