The Welsh Liberal Democrats have accused the Welsh Conservatives of failing to use their influence in Westminster to protect Welsh farmers in the wake the of Conservative Government’s post-Brexit trade policy.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Mid & West Wales Senedd Member Jane Dodds
The Welsh Liberal Democrats comments come after the UK Government announced that it will not publish a Wales-specific impact assessment of the Australian trade deal. Critics of the deal, and the subsequent deal with New Zealand claim the trade agreements will disproportionately hit Welsh farmers and rural communities in Wales.
Both the Australia and New Zealand trade deals have sparked concerns among farmers, unions such as NFU Cymru and FUW and those in the food processing industry. Concerns have focused on the risk that the zero-tariff and zero-quota access deals will allow lower standard and cheap meat to flood UK markets and push Welsh farmers out of business.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:
“The news that the Conservative Government in Westminster won’t publish a Wales-specific impact assessment of the Australian trade deal is yet the latest piece of evidence we have that shows Welsh Conservative MPs are utterly failing to use their positions to protect Welsh farmers.
“The age-old argument is that by having an MP that is part of the governing party, that MP should be better able to use their voice to protect the interests of their constituents. Yet with the Welsh Conservatives we can see the total opposite is happening, rather than defending the interests of Welsh farmers they are sitting quietly, following the party line constantly even when the decisions being made could prove extremely detrimental to their constituents.
“The Australian and New Zealand trade deals absolutely must receive an impact assessment focused on Wales given the importance of agriculture to the Welsh economy, specifically in Mid, North and West Wales. We have already been warned that these trade deals could not only put many Welsh family farms out of business, but they could also have a catastrophic impact on rural communities and a whole as well as Welsh language communities.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats want to see a level playing field, where trade regimes take into account the difficulty faced by Welsh producers in competing with their Australian counterparts.
“In May this year the Welsh Secretary Simon Hart stated that he had “heard loud and clear” concerns over the deal, yet the lack of an impact assessment brings serious doubt on his and other Welsh Conservatives’ ability to influence the Government. If they have such little success in making concerns heard with the Australia and New Zealand deals, I am extremely concerned over the potential impact of any future deals with the likes of Brazil, the US or Argentina.
“The Welsh Conservatives urgently need to find their voice and stand up for our Welsh farmers, not only over these trade deals, but also over the significant other problems facing the sector in Wales, including large labour shortages and the absence of an adequate EU veterinary agreement.”