UK red meat market to open up over 10-yr period as trade deal signed

UK red meat market to open up over 10-yr period as trade deal signed

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: UK PM Boris Johnson with Scott Morrison.

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED: UK PM Boris Johnson with Scott Morrison.


The PM said the deal was among "most comprehensive and ambitious agreement that Australia has concluded".


Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the agreement with his UK counterpart Boris Johnson in London on Tuesday.

Mr Morrison said the deal was among the "most comprehensive and ambitious agreement that Australia has concluded".

"The only one which comes into close connection with that is the arrangement we have with New Zealand, under the closer economic relationship arrangements we have there stop the movement of people, goods, services," Mr Morrison said.

"I said we would wait for the right deal, and I think we've got the right deal between the UK and Australia."

Despite the announcement, many of the specific details are yet to be publicly released.

One of the few details confirmed was the reduction of Australian beef and sheepmeat tariffs into the UK over a 10-year transition period.

The deal, once signed and ratified, will result in Australian beef, sheep and goat meat exports entering the UK under a tariff rate quota (TRQ) regime.

The initial TRQ tonnages will gradually increase over the 10-year transition period, whilst the above quota tariff will be linearly reduced.

It's also been confirmed that Australia will scrap the rule that requires UK citizens on work visas to do 88 days of rural work to extend their stay.

There are fears such a move would remove more than 10,000 people out of the seasonal workforce, which is already under extreme pressure due to COVID border restrictions.

However, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said there won't be any loss in workforce "because of the mechanism that will be put in place".

"The National Party has secured an agreement from the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party to make sure that we look to other mechanisms to fill that gap," Mr Littleproud said.

Mr Littleproud wouldn't reveal how the missing seasonal workers would be filled, but insisted the government would not just fill the void, but "expand the actual supply of seasonal labour".

UK farmers have raised concerns that they will struggle to compete under the deal and the market will be flooded with Aussie products.

Mr Johnson was asked if UK farmers had been sold out in the agreement.

"There are indeed safeguards...we are opening up to Australia, but we are doing it in a staggered way, and we are doing it over 15 years," Mr Johnson said.

Australia-UK Red Meat Market Access Taskforce chair Andrew McDonald said in the 1950s, the UK was one of Australia's steadfast export customers.

"A lot has changed since then, as red meat markets have evolved, and we have responded to strong demand in markets closer to home," Mr McDonald said.

"While our ability to service the market has previously been constrained by a highly restrictive UK import regime, the FTA will facilitate an easier response to British consumers seeking to 'buy Aussie' - should they wish to do so."

Currently, of Australia's $50 billion in agricultural exports, just $730 million is sent to the UK. Mr Littleproud tempered expectations and said the deal wasn't intended to be a magic bullet.

"This is just another feather in the cap," Mr Littleproud said.

"It will be free-trade agreement number 15, so this is about diversification and giving options for our producers to send boats left and right if they've got trouble in one particular market."

The trade deal still needs to be ratified by both countries before it becomes official.


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