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Fred Searle

BY FRED SEARLE

UK and EU farmers unite in call for free trade agreement

NFU president says it is “disappointing” that little progress has been made in trade talks, stressing importance of agri-food exports to UK

UK and EU farmers unite in call for free trade agreement

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Farming organisations from across the European Union have joined the NFU in its call for an urgent breakthrough in trade talks to establish a UK-EU free trade agreement.

The call came during a webinar on 17 June highlighting the importance of agri-food trade between the UK and EU, as well as the significant impact that not reaching an agreement would have on farming businesses. In 2019, food and drink exports to the EU were worth £14.2 billion to the UK economy.

More than 150 politicians, food and farming groups and stakeholders attended the discussion, which was jointly hosted by the NFU and six other farming organisations from across the UK and Europe.

Speaking after the event, NFU president Minette Batters said: “It is disappointing that there has been little progress in UK-EU trade talks to date, but I’m encouraged to hear that negotiators have agreed to increase the intensity of trade talks over the next couple of months to try and break the impasse.

“Farmers in the EU and UK rely on trade to support their businesses. The EU takes more than 70 per cent of the UK’s agri-food exports, and it is essential this relationship is maintained through a zero tariff, zero quota agreement.”

She added: “This event has shown that we, as colleagues and competitors across the UK and EU, are united in our call for free trade. 

“We all stand to benefit from a close trading relationship and from a thriving and competitive marketplace, and we all stand to lose if our relationship reverts to trading on hugely unsatisfactory WTO terms and barriers are erected across borders.

“It is crucially important that we get this right for farmers, and for the public who want to buy safe, traceable and affordable food.”

The trade deal with the EU could also set a precedent for how the UK intends to trade globally, especially when it comes to animal welfare, environmental protection and food safety standards.

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