The Canberra Times | 20 September 2022
Farmers ’big winners’ of UK trade deal
By Alex Mitchell | Australian Associated Press
Australia’s agricultural sector would be the big winner of a new free trade deal with the UK, the chief negotiator has declared.
Elisabeth Bowes from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told a parliamentary inquiry ratifying the agreement would bring huge benefits to Australia.
Australia is the first country negotiating a trade agreement with the UK since it exited the European Union.
Ms Bowes said it would bring "substantially increased opportunities" for Australian exporters, particularly in agriculture.
She said more than 99 per cent of Australian goods entering the UK would be duty-free, up from 89 per cent.
"This additional 10 per cent of duty-free access benefits Australian agricultural exporters in particular with beef, sheep meat, sugar and dairy products," she said.
The duty-free quotas would increase over time and eventually all tariffs would be eliminated.
"This outcome reduces and eventually eliminates the current very restrictive quotas and tariffs that apply to Australian agricultural exporters in the UK," Ms Bowes said.
Other impacts of the agreement would see Australians able to take three-year working holidays in the UK up from two years, and the age limit on those trips upped from 30 to 35 years old.
"Potential for increased mobility of skilled workers between our two nations is vital for COVID-19 economic recovery as recently recognised in the jobs and skills summit," Ms Bowes said.
The National Farmers Federation argues red meat producers are unlikely to benefit from the agreement, given southeast Asian demand already exceeds what Australia can supply.
But Andrew McDonald from Meat and Livestock Australia said the UK deal would "future-proof" the trade environment.
"What we look for within the FTA is future security of open trade to let markets and consumers drive outcomes," he said.
Labor committee chair Josh Wilson said independent assessment in the UK found the deal would add $3.9 billion to the country’s bottom-line by 2035, increase output in 20 sectors and adversely impact three.
Mr Wilson noted no similar assessments had been carried out in Australia.
The inquiry continues.