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MPs look at implications of UK-Australia free trade deal

3 February 2022

Parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee is to hold its first public evidence session looking at the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) the UK government signed with Australia in December 2021. The session is to be held at 2.30pm on Tuesday, 8 February 2022.

Purpose of the session

The government says the agreement will boost UK-Australia trade overall, increasing the size of the UK economy by £2.3bn (or 0.08%). This will be achieved, it says, by cutting UK import taxes (tariffs) on some Australian exports into the UK. However, the government’s analysis also shows that the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing sector will lose £94m as a result of the trade deal.

The UK agri-food sector, as represented by farmers’ and food & meat producers’ associations, has expressed concerns including about:

  • losing market share in the UK in key sectors such as beef and sheep meat because of the cuts in UK import taxes;
  • a lack of a level playing field because of higher UK animal welfare and environmental standards compared to Australia.

MPs are expected to ask the expert witnesses questions on the above subjects, as well as about: the implications for the sugar sector: why pigs, chickens and eggs are not covered by the FTA; sanitary checks; and what opportunities the deal may offer to UK businesses exporting to Australia.

Although the FTA has been signed by the UK and Australian governments, it will likely be considered by Parliament at a later date for debate and final ratification before it comes into force. The Committee’s current consideration of the details of the FTA would inform any debate in the House on ratification.

Further sessions of the Committee are scheduled over the next three months to interrogate other aspects of the UK-Australia FTA.

Witnesses

8 February 2022

2.30pm:

  • Peter Hardwick, Trade Policy Advisor, British Meat Processors Association
  • Neil Shand, Chief Executive Officer, National Beef Association
  • Phil Stocker, Chief Executive, National Sheep Association
  • Nick von Westenholz, Director of International Trade and Business Strategy, National Farmers Union

Further information

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