A free trade agreement between the UK and Australia has been officially confirmed, with London placing a reservation to address concerns expressed by the country’s farmers about the risk of meat imports from a much larger agricultural partner.
“British farmers are protected for 15 years through duty-free imports, using tariff quotas and other safeguards. We are also helping agricultural producers to increase their exports overseas, including to new markets in the Indo-Pacific, ”said a statement by the UK government from the Department of International Trade today (15th agreement was reached.
The intricacies of the trade deal are still unclear, however, as the UK government said after the conclusion of talks between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott last night that a “final agreement in principle in the coming days” would come to Morrison.
Johnson said in a statement: “Today marks a new morning in Britain’s relations with Australia, one that is sustained by our shared history and values. Our new free trade agreement opens up fantastic opportunities for UK businesses and consumers.
“This is the global UK at its best – looking outward and making agreements that will deepen our alliances and help every part of the country build better from the pandemic.”
Over a transition period of 15 years, the two countries are striving for duty-free trade in all goods from biscuits and confectionery to Scottish whiskey and automobiles, as well as zero import quotas. The deal also covers the service industry, while the partners have agreed to work together on defense and security, technology and climate change issues, including what is known as a future clean tech partnership.
It is the first major free trade agreement that Britain has reformulated from the ground up since the country left the European Union in January. It has been recognized by the UK government as a stepping stone towards joining the wider and progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP).
The CPTPP is considered one of the world’s largest free trade agreements, valued at £ 9 trillion (US $ 12.6 trillion), and covers 11 countries, including Australia.
Existing trade between the UK and Australia was valued at £ 13.9 billion last year.
For his part, Australian Prime Minister Morrison said in a separate statement today that the two countries need to work on “our economic strengths between our economies”.
He continued, “It takes many forms – investing in our critical supply chains, in critical technology, and making sure the economic strength and benefits we have in our partnership go on, go higher, to make jobs and to succeed Strengthening our economies is a very, very challenging time.
“It is an important time and we respect the process that we know the UK will be going through at this time. It is a different world beyond which the UK has been part of the EU for so many years. We in Australia remember very vividly the repercussions of the UK’s entry into the common market in the early 1970s. That had a devastating blow to Australian producers. The Brexit that has occurred is an opportunity for us to pick up where we left off many years ago and to recognize again the extent of the trade relations that we once had. ”
In the meantime, UK farmers and the representative organization of the National Farmers’ Union will be keeping an eye on the upcoming details on import quotas after raising concerns that they will be losing out to competition, particularly on beef and lamb imports. You are also likely looking for comments on maintaining UK’s high health standards for meat and animal welfare when the use of growth hormones, pesticides and feed additives is allowed in Australia but banned in the UK.
The organization that represents the UK’s food and beverage manufacturers, The Food and Drink Federation, said its members exported £ 800 million worth of goods to Australia last year.
Dominic Goudie, Head of International Trade at EVS said: “It is important now that we know the details of the agreements to help companies understand and prepare for the new trading terms.
“Food and beverage manufacturers hope this deal removes annoying and unnecessary trade barriers that will fuel our industry’s post-Covid recovery in good time. The terms must also ensure that consumers continue to have confidence that any agreement meets the highest standards of food safety and animal welfare. ”
Liz Truss, UK Foreign Secretary for International Trade, said of the deal: “It is a fundamentally liberalizing deal that removes tariffs on all UK goods and opens up new opportunities for our service providers and technology companies. membership [of the CPTPP] will open up undreamt-of opportunities for our farmers, manufacturers, innovators and investors to do business in the future engine room of the global economy. ”