Australia is one of the UK’s closest allies. We share a head of state, the same language and the same values. Our people also enjoy deep and historic links of kinship and friendship, arguably unlike any other two nations.
A trade deal with Australia has been reached and is an enormous opportunity for the UK. We are Australia’s second largest trading partner outside the Asia-Pacific and trade between our two countries was worth £18.8 billion in 2019. 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. Australia shares our beliefs in high standards in areas such as animal welfare and the environment. Like the UK, Australia’s animal welfare standards scored five out of five by the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE). When our standards diverge on hormone-fed beef, for example, we will continue to ensure the highest of standards are upheld meaning hormone-fed beef will continue to be banned in the UK and not allowed to enter the UK market.
British farmers will also be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years using 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.
Further, Australian meat products flooding the UK market has cited as a concern. However, Australian beef and sheep meat exports are at near full capacity because Australia’s existing markets – in particular, the south – east Asian nations – are seeing rapid growth in consumption of Australian exports meaning that Australia’s exportable beef and sheep products are already spoken for. Furthermore, the transportation costs of Australian meat exports are obviously much less to their current markets than the cost of exporting to the UK. This means Australian meat will be at the high end of the market. Therefore, British farmers will be further protected because Australian exporters will be unable to export high volumes at low prices.
There will be new opportunities for British farmers too. This deal would forge a path for the UK to access the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a £9 trillion partnership. This would give British farmers better access to the massive consumer markets of the present and future – almost two-thirds of the world’s middle classes will be in Asia by 2030. This is where the opportunity lies for our farmers, manufacturers and service providers.
The whole United Kingdom is set to benefit from the agreement. Scotland, for instance, exported £126 million worth of beverages to Australia in 2020 and the deal will help distillers by removing tariffs of up to 5 per cent on Scotch Whisky. Machinery and manufacturing goods account for 90 per cent of exports from Northern Ireland to Australia and the deal will remove tariffs and simplify customs procedures. The more than 450 businesses in Wales that exported to Australia last year will also benefit from the deal.
Further provisions on digital, investment and market access for service professionals will benefit the UK's services sector. 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.