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UK government is divided over negotiations on one of its first post-Brexit trade deals as local farmers raise concerns about Australian imports

May 19, 2021

Australian politicsUK government is divided over negotiations on one of its first post-Brexit trade deals as local farmers raise concerns about Australian imports
Australias national farmers federation has sought to reassure UK farmers over the pending free trade agreement between the two nations, arguing Australia wants better access to the market, but the amount of access will depends on demand.
Leaks in the UK press, most recently in the Financial Times, reveal the UK government is divided over the free trade deal, one of the first the British government is attempting to negotiate since leaving the EU, given concerns from its own agricultural industry.
Farmers in the UK are worried about the potential for Australian agricultural producers to receive tariff-free access to the market and the competition implications that could have for their own products.
President of the Australian NFF, Fiona Simson, said Australian farmers shared many of the same issues and challenges as their UK peers when it came to farming, but the reality of how much Australian product would be made available would be dependent on UK demand.
Farmers warn post-Brexit trade deal with Australia could hit UK agriculture
The volume of Australian red meat to the UK in the context of the UKs total red meat imports and Australias total exports is very, very small, she said.
In 2020, the UK imported 314,000 tonnes of beef with only 1,567 tonnes coming from Australia approximately 0.15% of all Australian beef exports [that same year] the UK imported 67,500 tonnes of sheep meat, about 14% of which came from Australia.
The aim of any free trade agreement is to provide both parties options. Australian red meat producers would like to have the option to export to the UK if and when the UK needs it.
Its the latest hurdle in the negotiations, which included Britains trade secretary Liz Truss having to personally message Australian trade minister Dan Tehan after leaks emerged in the UK press alleging Truss had called Tehan inexperienced and planned on seating him in an uncomfortable chair for a recent meeting.
Both sides are trying to get a deal finalised by June, when the G7 summit will be held in Cornwall. Australia, which is not a G7 nation, has been invited to attend.
Tehans office was staying quiet as negotiations continued, but remains confident of having at least an in-principle deal by the deadline.
Were making good progress on the UK FTA, Tehan said in a statement.
I had two days sitting down with Liz Truss on my recent visit to the UK and we are now meeting every week in a sprint to have an in-principle agreement by the end of June. We have been consistent throughout this process that we dont comment on the details of the negotiations.
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