Sheep producers are going to come under the most pressure as a result of UK trade deals with non-EU countries, a report published by the Scottish government and undertaken by experts at Andersons and Wageningen University has concluded.
The study assessed the impact on Scottish agriculture of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) between the UK and four partners – Australia, New Zealand (NZ), Canada and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The report authors found that the impact of these selected FTAs is “generally limited”, but significant in some sectors. In sheep meat, many of those within the industry see the new FTA as a signal from the UK to NZ businesses to recapture trade lost when the UK joined the EEC in 1973.
It is also likely that imports from Australia and NZ will exert “significant pressure” on the UK beef sector, however, a trade deal with Canada is likely to generate some opportunities for a product with brand recognition, such as Scotch beef.
Among the sectors assessed, dairy is best-positioned to see export growth with opportunities, especially to the Gulf States.
But while the overall impact of FTAs with the four partners is relatively limited, they have set a precedent, potentially for a future deal with an agricultural powerhouse such as the US or Mercosur (to include Brazil and Argentina). “FTAs with Australia and NZ give important signals to trade negotiators elsewhere, as to what the UK is willing to cede in trade negotiations,” notes the study.