Scotland and Northern Ireland Ministers Raise Australia’s Trading Concerns

The local ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland have written to the British government with concerns about Australia’s trade agreement.

In a joint letter to the Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss, the two administrations said the deal risks imbalanced impacts on domestic farmers and producers.

Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a post-Brexit trade deal last week.

However, British farmers have expressed concern that Australian meat can undermine them.

Scottish Government Regional Director Mairi Gujon and her Northern Ireland Executive counterpart Edwin Poots have written a joint letter calling for further clarification of the deal.

At a meeting with Defra officials on June 28, they called for urgent discussions on the deal.

The letter says: “We have previously emphasized that the UK Government has signed a contract to sustainably increase Australian agricultural imports and produce to lower standards, and we are very concerned after the recent announcement with animal welfare. In connection with future environmental efforts.

“As you know, agricultural and food standards are delegated responsibilities.

“If Australia’s agricultural imports are on the rise, it is clear that this must be controlled by tariff quotas that are not eroded over time.”

“We are also concerned about the size of the quota, which is equivalent to 16% of UK beef consumption and 49% of UK mutton consumption 15 years later.

“Obviously, if Australia’s exports reach close to these levels, we can expect a very significant negative impact on the agricultural food sector.

“We are not relieved about the claim that Australia does not export large quantities of beef to the UK or is trying to replace imports from other countries.

“Australia is a very important beef exporter and has the potential to further increase exports with a view to targeting the UK market.”

They state that domestic producers are still at a disadvantage, despite the non-regressive provisions on animal welfare standards.

The letter states, “There is little belief that these concerns are currently taken seriously.”

A spokeswoman for the British government said:

“Trade agreements, such as those agreed in principle with Australia, pave the way for access to regional trade areas such as the CPTPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement) and work with the agricultural industry. The Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executives will help farmers take advantage of these dynamic markets.

“British farmers are highly regarded for their high quality and well-being produce. We put British agriculture at the center of our trade policy and have some of the most robust and transparent scrutiny arrangements in the world. I’m waiting.”

By Neil Pooran

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