UK could put tariffs on food from countries with lower standards

The UK could introduce tariffs on imports of food from countries with lower food safety and farming standards than the UK, using World Trade Organization rules, the environment secretary has suggested, The Guardian reports.
“We want to ensure all our food comes from countries that meet our standards,” Theresa Villiers told an audience of farmers on Wednesday. “That is what the powerful tools of the WTO do, they enable us to impose tariffs where we believe products do not meet our high standards.”
The surprising suggestion, which would be highly controversial with any potential trade partners and could provoke a trade war, followed an admission by Villiers that farming would be a key component of any post-Brexit trade deal, and that the UK would face heavy bargaining from potential trade partners.
“Absolutely, there will be pressure on agriculture [in trade negotiations], there always is,” she said. “Agriculture is always the last chapter to close on a trade deal.”
But she vowed to uphold UK standards. “We put in our manifesto our commitment to our standards of food safety and food security, animal welfare and the environment,” she said. “That’s what we will put on the table.”
For a country such as the UK to insist on being able to maintain its own high standards on environmental protections would be legal under WTO rules, she said.

Full text of the news is available at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/08/uk-could-put-tariffs-on-food-from-countries-with-lower-standards