Trade Secretary Liz Truss says trade deal with the USA will not undercut British farmers

Britain will not sign up to a Free Trade Agreement with the United States that would undercut British farmers, the Secretary for International Trade has pledged.

Liz Truss told The Yorkshire Post that she wanted to negotiate as much of an agreement as possible before the US Presidential elections in November but said she would not prioritise speed over quality in an agreement.

Ms Truss made her remarks as the United Kingdom prepares to begin exporting beef to the United States for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, with Government advisors claiming that Yorkshire stands to benefit more than most regions from an FTA, with indicative estimates claiming it could boost the region’s economy by as much as £287m. 

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Speaking during a visit to a farm near York she said: “In terms of the FTA we are now getting into the phase of negotiations where we are starting to talk about the tariffs.

The Trade Secretary in negotiations with her US counterparts.

“Obviously we have got to get through that, it is a really important part of the negotiations but we are going to make as much progress as we can before the US election.

“But I am not going to prioritize speed over getting the right deal for Britain. We are very committed to protecting our high standards in this country, making sure that any deal we get is right for British farmers and is right for manufacturers.

“So, yes we want a deal but we don’t want a deal at any price. We are moving as fast as we can but we want to get a deal that is right for Britain and right for Yorkshire.”

Concern has existed in the UK food industry about the dangers of an FTA meaning the UK could be flooded with cheap imports which are produced to standards which would be illegal in the UK and price UK farmers out of the market.

Rosie Powley (Farmer’s daughter/ vet student) Mike Powley (Farmer) Liz Truss

The National Farmers Union and TV chef Jamie Oliver have campaigned on the issue and a Trade and Agriculture Commission has been established to oversee any elements of an FTA.However Ms Truss was insistent that there would be no lowering of standards.

“Food standards are set by the Food Standards Agency and we are not discussing changing those standards as part of the US deal,” she said.

“In any deal we negotiate, British farmers with their high standards are not going to be undermined. That is something we are going to be looking at on a case by case basis in all the agreements we strike.”

Liz Truss

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