Thank you for contacting me about the free trade agreement with Australia.
A trade deal with Australia has been reached and is an enormous opportunity for the UK. The deal will eliminate tariffs on all UK goods and will support jobs and businesses across the country. People under the age of 35 will also be able to travel and work in Australia more freely.
I appreciate that you have concerns about the impact of the trade deal with Australia and its effect on food standards in particular. Australia shares our beliefs in high standards in areas such as animal welfare and the environment. This deal will uphold these high standards.
British farmers will also be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years through the use of tariff-rate quotas and further safeguards.. The Trade and Agriculture Commission will provide independent scrutiny of animal welfare in the deal ahead of its ratification.
Agricultural producers are also being supported to increase exports overseas including in the Indo-Pacific. Global demand for meat is increasingly rapidly and free trade agreements create huge export opportunities for farmers. The deal with Australia is also a gateway to joining CPTPP – a group of high-standards Pacific nations.
Additional details on the deal will be released shortly and Parliament will scrutinise the deal in the usual way alongside an impact assessment and explanatory memorandum.
Australian meat ‘flooding’ the UK market
Australian export opportunities to the UK are likely to be limited. We are more likely to see prime steak for restaurants rather than cheap imports flooding supermarket shelves. Australian imports of beef would likely displace current imports from the EU, not British produce.
Additionally, Australian beef and lamb is already committed to the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific markets. Around 75 percent of Australian beef exports and 70 percent of sheep meat are imported to Asia-Pacific markets where the cost of beef production can be twice as high than the UK in some markets. The prospect of substantive Australian imports of beef and sheep meat is very low.