The trade agreement with Australia will be a “stepping stone” to a broader agreement on the Pacific, said Foreign Trade Minister Liz Truss as she rejected farmers’ concerns about the agreement.
Truss said the UK is looking at parts of the world where growth is expected in the future as it defends the deal, which is expected to only increase 0.01% to 0.02% to the economy. She insisted that there would be opportunities for British farmers to sell products to the new markets and “we need to stop being defensive.”
On ITV’s Good Morning Britain, she was challenged about the relatively small economic benefits of the deal, compared to the estimated long-term 4 per cent for UK productivity due to Brexit.
“The numbers you’re talking about are a static analysis of the world as it is now,” Truss said.
‘What we’re seeing is a huge increase in trade with the Asia-Pacific market.
“Australia is important in itself – we are likely to see a 30 percent increase with Australia by 2030.”
She added that it’s also a springboard for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is an important agreement with 11 countries in the Pacific region, 500 million inhabitants, and what we see is a very fast growing part of the world where there is a huge demand for British goods. ”
The UK wants to join the comprehensive and progressive agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership with countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.
Farmers and animal welfare campaigns are worried that the agreement with Australia will lead to cheaper imports producing British meat below the highest standard.
The president of the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales (NFU), Minette Batters, said: “We will need to know more about the provisions regarding animal welfare and the environment to ensure that our high production standards are not affected by the provisions of this agreement. will not be undermined. “
Chris Sherwood, chief executive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), has warned that it is legal in Australia to mutilate the backs of sheep, while chicken can be washed with chlorine and nearly half of the cattle are given. growth hormones.
Truss told Sky News there is a 15-year transition period before Australia has quota-free access to the UK.
“Australia sells mainly in the Asia-Pacific markets, which have much higher prices than here in the UK and Europe,” she said.
‘But what the agreement will also enable us is to get more opportunities for our farmers in markets like Vietnam, as in the other markets, where the demand for British meat and lamb is growing.
“So we have to look outside. I think we need to stop being defensive and see where the opportunities are. ”
She told the BBC that hormone-injected beef is still banned in the UK and that there is virtually no trade in products such as chickens because it is so far away. “
Truss added: “Australia has very high standards for animal welfare and in some cases it is higher standards than many EU countries, where we already have a quota-free, tariff-free agreement.”
Asked by Prime Minister Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP Westminster, Ian Blackford said the government’s “disastrous” agreement “threw Scottish farmers and looters under their Brexit bus.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs: “The people in this country voted for this government to enter into free trade transactions around the world and I believe they were absolutely right.”
Johnson also described it as a ‘big deal’ for both the UK and Scotland.
Under the agreement, tariffs for beef and mutton will be eliminated after ten years, with a tax-free quota of 35,000 tons (38,580 tons) of beef, which rose to 110,000 tons (121,000 tons) at the end of it. period, and 25,000 tons (27,500 tons) of mutton, which rose to 75,000 tons (82,600 tons).
In the next five years, there will be safeguards aimed at ensuring that Australian meat does not flood the market.
Details were published by Canberra, but not by the British government.
According to Downing Street, some of the final details of the deal are still being worked through and agreed upon, and will be fully published as soon as it happens.
The prime minister’s press secretary said: ‘This is [Johnson’s] see that it is an agreement that provides opportunities for the whole country and it is something we must stand by. ‘