The National Sheep Association (NSA) has appealed to the New Zealand Government to take the interests of UK sheep farmers into consideration when negotiating a future export deal with the UK.

In response to a New Zealand Government consultation on building a free trade deal with the UK after Brexit, the NSA called the trade “an entirely one-way process” in New Zealand’s favour, despite sheep meat being of equal scale in both countries, and asked for the country’s trade negotiators be “realistic in their asks.”

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “Trade negotiations will be taking place at a time when our sheep industry is likely to be going through significant change and will be both vulnerable and opposed to any further trade pressure.

“Any new UK/NZ trade deal will cover all products, industries and services and it is crucial to recognise that for sheep meat it is an entirely one-way trade.

“We may be relatively equivalent in terms of flock size and productivity, but what is not equivalent at all is the market place with the UK having a human population of some 66m compared to New Zealand’s 4.8m.

For sheep farming, there is much to be gained by New Zealand in striking a free trade deal with the UK post Brexit, and much to be lost by UK sheep farmers.

“Our own sheep industry will already be struggling if Brexit does not go smoothly, as seems apparent today, and if New Zealand is given the go ahead to import a higher quantity of lamb than comes in now it will risk either pressure on prices or the UK having to chase equivalent export markets elsewhere.”