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The international trade secretary has emphasised the importance of serving the interests of British consumers in post-Brexit trade deals, despite concerns from unions about the potentially “fatal” impact on parts of the UK’s agricultural sector.

Asked how he plans to protect the UK’s sheep farming industry during trade negotiations with New Zealand, Liam Fox told MPs in the House of Commons:

That will be an important part of our discussions, we will want to discuss with the NFU and others how we do that, but we also need to take into account something that doesn’t seem to be mentioned very often which is the interests of UK consumers in any trade deal that we come to.

The secretary of state also declined to give any guarantees when asked about the potential for British produce to be undercut by businesses selling hormone-fed beef and chlorinated chickens if a free trade deal is agreed with the US.

Mr Fox, an advocate for a “post-geography trading world”, recently said it will be “easy” for the UK to adopt the EU’s existing free trade agreements with third countries after it leaves the union. However, when asked today whether the UK would be able to adopt the EU’s upcoming Ceta trade deal with Canada, Mr Fox’s colleague Greg Hands, a minister in the same department, said the UK “will have to look at that when we come to it”.

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