US Secretary of State for agriculture Sonny Perdue has met with the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee and its chair Neil Parish to discuss post-Brexit trade.
Talks centred on the key challenges and opportunities for UK-US agri-food trade following Brexit, an Efra statement said.
Also discussed was the US view on how the current EU-wide ‘Tariff Rate Quotas’ should be split with the UK after Brexit. Tariff Rate Quotas allow a set amount of certain food products to be imported under low or zero tariffs.
The UK and EU will develop a proposed method for calculating how much of the quota for each product should go to the UK and how much to the EU, Efra said. This proposal will be presented to the World Trade Organisation for member countries to consider.
Parish said: 'Today we had an open and constructive conversation with Secretary Purdue. The domestic US market presents significant opportunities for the UK food and farming industry, and following Brexit the government should focus on securing a great bilateral trade deal with our US partners.”
Parish said the committee raised the importance of maintaining food standards in any trade deal with the US.
“We must ensure that a trade deal protects UK consumers and maintains a level playing field for our own producers,” Parish continued. “Food safety and animal welfare standards must upheld in any future Free Trade Agreement.'
'It really matters to UK farmers and consumers that agreement on Tariff Rate Quotas is reached quickly with World Trade Organisation countries - including the US. The outcome will significantly affect the competitiveness of goods produced in the UK and have an impact on wider trade negotiations.
“Today’s discussion with Senator Purdue demonstrates the priority which representatives from both the US and UK give to finding a mutually acceptable approach to this issue.”
Appointed in 2017 to the Trump administratoin, Purdue is known to be a supporter of big agri business in the US, and a climate change sceptic. In his confirmation hearing, he reportedly said “the jury is still out on whether humans are causing climate change”.