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Agreements worth billions of pounds would be at risk, as Defra is cautioned against the move by Iceland and Canada
The Government has been warned banning fur sales could compromise newly signed post-Brexit trade deals worth billions of pounds.
It comes after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a call for evidence into the fur trade in June amid reports Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister’s animal-loving wife, has been lobbying for a ban on fur sales alongside Lord Goldsmith, the animal welfare minister.
Last month, in a letter seen by The Telegraph, the Icelandic government warned Defra that if it moved ahead with the proposed ban, the UK would be in breach of the free trade agreement Liz Truss, the Trade Secretary, signed with the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein) in July. The total value of the deal is £21.6 billion per year.
Canada has also told Defra that it is closely monitoring the ongoing consultation into fur sales and has said that it does not believe bans are the most effective way of improving animal welfare. The UK is currently trying to agree a trade deal with Canada worth £20 billion a year.
In a letter to Defra’s director general Terry Jones, Ragnar Kristjansson, Iceland’s director general of trade and external affairs warns: “The Ministry would like to convey that Iceland would object to any measure which hinders trade and is implemented without justifiable reasons or measures unproportionate to the aim.”
Warning that such a move would also be in breach of World Trade Organisation rules, the letter adds: “An unjustified import ban on fur would further be considered a breach of the Agreement.”
Frank Zilberkweit, Chairman of the British Fur Trade Association, said: “We’ve consistently warned that a fur ban would damage relations with some of our closest trading partners including the US, Canada, and many countries in Europe including Iceland, all major producers of fur. These warnings are now real.”
There have been 30,000 responses to the call for evidence and the results are due to be published at the end of the month.