The powers within the Trade Bill cannot be used to implement new free trade agreements with countries such as the US, Australia or New Zealand. Instead, the Bill can only be used to roll-over the free trade agreements that the UK has been party to through its EU membership.
I know that my Ministerial colleagues have no intention whatsoever of lowering standards in transitioned trade agreements, as the very purpose of these agreements is to replicate as close as possible the effects of existing commitments in EU agreements. You will be pleased to hear that none of the 20 continuity agreements signed have resulted in standards being lowered.
Although future trade agreements are outside the scope of the Trade Bill, the Government has made a clear and absolute commitment to uphold the UK’s high animal welfare, environmental, food safety and food import standards in any future free trade agreement. I know Ministers do not intend to compromise the UK’s domestic welfare production standards either and I welcome the creation of the Trade and Agriculture Commission to advise the Secretary of State on protecting these standards while capitalising on trading opportunities.
Without exception, all animal products imported into the UK under existing or future free trade agreements from all trading partners, including the EU and others, will have to meet our stringent food safety standards, as they do now. The UK’s independent food regulators will continue making sure that all food imports into the UK comply with those high standards.