July 12, 2018 / 1:11 PM / in 8 months

Factbox - Britain proposes agri-food free trade, common rulebook

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain published its proposals on Thursday for future trade with the European Union after it leaves the bloc next March.

In the White Paper, it proposed a free trade area with a common rulebook for agriculture and food products which would remove the need, for example, for physical border checks between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and a new scheme to protect such products as Scotch Whisky and Welsh Lamb from imitations.

Britain’s farmers have generally prospered under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy with funds flowing from Brussels to support the sector.

There are fears that among some farmers that once the EU hands over the purse strings it could eventually lead to reduced government support, as agriculture will have to compete with departments such as health and education for funds.

Others, however, hope Britain can create a new farm policy more targeted to their needs.

The proposals form part of Britain’s negotiations with the EU over the future shape of trading links.

The main agriculture and food proposals are:

- A free trade area with a common rulebook for agriculture and food products.

- “This would remove the need to undertake additional regulatory checks at the border – avoiding the need for any physical infrastructure, such as Border Inspection Posts, at the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.”

- The UK would have the freedom to apply higher animal welfare standards that would not have a bearing on the functioning of the free trade area for agri-food goods – such as welfare in transport and the treatment of live animal exports.

- Britain wants equivalence arrangements on wider food policy rules - for example, the EU has reciprocal equivalence agreements for organic production rules and control systems with several countries including Canada, Chile and Israel.

- Britain will establish its own Geographical Indications scheme after exit to provide legal protection against imitation for products such as Scotch whisky, Scottish farmed salmon, and Welsh beef and lamb.

- Britain would be able to have control over new future subsidy arrangements and control over market surveillance of domestic policy arrangements.

Reporting by Nigel Hunt; editing by David Evans

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