Wales politics

Brexit: New Zealand deal 'could destroy' lamb industry

Sheep farm on South Island, New Zealand
Image caption Sheep farming in New Zealand - a threat to our livelihoods, Welsh farmers have claimed

The Welsh lamb industry could be destroyed by a free trade deal with New Zealand after Brexit, the rural affairs secretary has warned.

Farmers' leaders fear a "perfect storm" of cheap New Zealand imports and the loss of Welsh exports to the EU.

Lesley Griffiths told AMs that UK government ministers felt they had "magic powers" over Welsh agriculture despite it being a devolved matter.

"We have made it very clear there can be no imposition," she said of talks.

Ms Griffiths told the assembly's rural affairs committee she was happy with the current round of talks with ministers at Westminster about the future of UK farming after Brexit, but the prospect of a free trade agreement with New Zealand was a cause for concern.

"If we have this huge influx of New Zealand lamb it will absolutely destroy the Welsh lamb industry," she said.

"I do not want to say 'I told you so' but that was one of the issues we tried to get out there ahead of the referendum."

Image caption The four UK governments are "all equal around the table" on agriculture, says Lesley Griffiths

The committee was told up to 93% of Welsh lamb exports currently go to the EU and, if the UK was unable to strike a trade deal with the EU after Brexit, they would face a 12% tariff under World Trade Organisation rules.

AMs heard that around 5,000 pieces of EU legislation on fisheries and farming would come under the control of the Welsh Government.

Asked if the UK government would seek to take control of some of those matters, Ms Griffiths replied: "I do think they recognise that we are all equal.

"We have made it very clear there can be no imposition, there has to be collaboration.

"I mentioned about them thinking that maybe they have this magic set of powers because they have been the member state, but we have made it very clear that is not the case.

"It is not part of the devolution settlement and we are all equal around the table."

Ms Griffiths is to to meet her UK government counterpart Andrea Leadsom in Cardiff on Thursday.

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