THE UK's new trade deal with New Zealand will be “damaging to Scottish farmers, Holyrood ministers warn.

The deal – which is set to allow a jump in tariff-free imports of food products – will result in a “lack of a level playing field” between Scottish and New Zealand farmers, according to Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon and Trade Minister Ivan McKee.

The Scottish Government ministers have written a letter to Penny Mordaunt, the UK Trade Minister, to outline the deal's “stark contrast” with the EU’s free trade agreement (FTA) with New Zealand - which they say provides the same market access while offering domestic farmers more robust safeguards from foreign competition.

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The New Zealand agreement will allow for 12,000 tonnes of beef to be imported into the UK, while the EU will import a mere 3333 tonnes between all its 27 members states.

And by the 15th year of the deal, the UK Government will increase the quantity of beef imports to 60,000 tonnes – and then remove any cap on beef imports from New Zealand after that. Meanwhile, the EU will limit imports to 10,000 tonnes and apply a 7.5% tariff.

Gougeon and McKee wrote to Mordaunt to stress how the deal “emphasises the futility and economic self-harm of the UK Government leaving the EU, making its own trade agreements, and then ending up with a worse deal that if we had stayed in the EU”.

They also urged the UK Government to outline “what mitigations and compensation it will put in place for economic sectors and communities that suffer as a result” of the agreement.

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Their letter to Mordaunt said: “We have consistently raised concerns at the lack of a level playing field between Scottish and New Zealand farmers, who can benefit from larger economies of scale.

“It is notable that the EU–New Zealand FTA specifically excludes beef that is produced on commercial feedlots from benefiting from the preferential terms of this agreement.

“As concerns about fair competition are well known, why could the UK Government not agree a similar condition with New Zealand as part of its FTA negotiations?”

The Scottish Government has also raised similar concerns over lamb imports.