SNP questions whether UK-New Zealand trade agreement a 'good deal' for Scottish farmers

The SNP has questioned whether the trade agreement with New Zealand will be a “good deal” for Scotland’s farmers.

It was announced on Wednesday night that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had agreed on a new trade deal with New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

The UK Government said the deal would cut red tape for businesses and end tariffs on exports.

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But farmers warned of “huge downsides” to the deal, which they said “could damage the viability of many British farms in the years ahead”.

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament. Picture: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

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The deal comes after 16 months of negotiations, and Mr Johnson said: “This is great trade deal for the United Kingdom, cementing our long friendship with New Zealand and furthering our ties with the Indo-Pacific.

SNP trade spokesman Drew Hendry responding by saying on Thursday: “The UK Government’s own assessment shows that a free trade agreement with New Zealand would bring zero benefit, indeed it could lead to contraction in GDP.

“Can the Secretary of State tell us how long it would take to make up, say, even 0.5 per cent of the 14 per cent drop in Scottish food and drink exports to the EU through this deal?”

The Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP added: “According to the government’s own figures, this deal will cut employment in our farming communities. For what? About £112 million possibly?

"That is about half of the Prime Minister’s new yacht. Is that really a good deal?”

Trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Some of our most fantastic brands come out of Scottish businesses and all the trade deals that we are putting together and negotiating have some of those at the very top of our call list.

“Indeed, we want to make sure that that continues to be so, opening up more markets gives the opportunism for fantastic Scottish whisky, amazing Scottish beef and many other products.”

She added: “As I make new trade deals I want to ensure that our farmers are finding new markets for our products, we are seeing, as I mentioned in my statement, a growth in markets across Asia where the call for high quality produce is growing.”