Greg Hands and Mark Spencer are set to face the EFRA Committee

Government ministers Greg Hands and Mark Spencer will face questions from the EFRA Committee in the final evidence session of its inquiry into the UK’s trade policy for food and agriculture.

Defra's Mark Spencer

Defra’s Mark Spencer

Image: Richard Townshend

Hands is minister for trade policy at the Department for Business and Trade, while Spencer is food and farming minister at Defra.

On Tuesday 23 April, MPs will ask the ministers for their views on the repeated concerns heard during the inquiry that the UK does not have a coherent trade strategy for food and agriculture.

The ministers will be questioned about the implications for the UK agri-food sector of the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The committee is expected to examine why negotiations towards a new UK-Canada free trade-agreement (FTA) were paused earlier this year. MPs will ask Hands and Spencer how the government plans to respond if Canada continues to insist on the UK accepting hormone-treated beef as part of an FTA.

The ministers will also be questioned on why the government does not agree to follow stakeholder calls for the UK to insist on core standards regarding sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules, animal welfare and environmental standards in trade agreements, as a precondition.

Finally, with the EU remaining the UK’s most significant trading partner for agri-food products, the committee will probe how the UK will mitigate market-access barriers that arise from increasing divergence from new EU agri-food and environmental legislation.