Thank you for contacting me about food poverty and UK future trade.
We all want to do what we can to alleviate food poverty and as such I am encouraged that the Government has taken significant action to make sure children and their families do not go hungry during this pandemic.
I know that negotiators are working their hardest to reach a deal with the EU on a free trade agreement with no tariffs, fees, charges or quotas across all good sectors, including food. However, it remains possible that an agreement will not be reached.
I will of course ensure that ministers are aware of the concerns you have raised and be following progress in the negotiations incredibly closely.
Meanwhile, I know that my ministerial colleagues at the Department for International Trade are devoting their energies to ensuring the UK’s new trade powers help reduce food prices and the burden on British consumers through tariff reduction and a programme of ambitious trade negotiations.
The UK Global Tariff (UKGT), which will take effect from 1st January 2021, will be simpler and easier to use than the EU’s Common External Tariff (CET), bringing in lower tariffs and rounding down tariffs.
Overall, with the UKGT, just under 50 per cent of products will be zero tariff, compared to 27 per cent under the CET. The UKGT will remove tariffs on £30 billion worth of imports, including food produce, entering UK supply chains. Tariff reduction on machinery will also enable British food producers to provide families with a variety of more affordable foodstuffs.
I know that there are genuine concerns about the effect of future trade deals on the standards of the foods. We have high standards in this country, and I am glad to be able to reassure you that ministers have said that there is no way the Government will reduce those standards. British consumers want high welfare to produce, and if our trading partners want to break into the UK market, they should expect to meet those standards.