Alyn Smith MEP has written to Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan and Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström to raise concerns over the impact a new free trade deal between the EU and Australia/New Zealand could have on the Scottish lamb sector.
The EU is New Zealand’s third largest trading partner and, if successful, the free trade agreement would give Australia and New Zealand open access to Europe’s 500 million consumers.
Alyn, Scotland’s sole voice on the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said: “New Zealand’s primary interest in increasing exports to the EU is in agriculture, and their main agricultural export to the EU, making up over one third of their agricultural exports, is sheepmeat. Indeed, the vast majority of EU sheepmeat imports come from New Zealand.”
“I’m no opponent of free trade, but Scotland has a real interest at risk which needs to be protected. Much of our production takes place in remote and economically disadvantaged regions where alternatives to agriculture for economic activity and employment are seriously limited. That’s why I’ve written to the Commission to urgently demand more information on the safeguards that will be put in place to prevent displacement of production and subsequent farm bankruptcies in our rural and remote areas.”