Scots food industry critical of UK/Australia trade negotiations

Industry organisations – including Scotland Food & Drink, the National Farmers Union Scotland and Quality Meat Scotland – have signed an open letter to secretary of state Liz truss calling for greater scrutiny in trade deals, particularly in the UK/Australia free trade agreement.

While the organisations welcomed the trade policy in concept and the new opportunities it could provide, it called on the Government to not throw away the already established market the UK has with the EU.

However, they argued that trading agreements post-Brexit has made trading with the UK’s biggest export market costly, complex and high risk to supply to.

Too fast

The letter also criticised the speed in which the UK/Australia trade deal was being pushed through, leaving little time for scrutiny, particularly in relation to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures.

“We recognise the UK Government’s desire to move quickly to create new opportunities with nations beyond the EU,”​ read the letter.

“However, we are concerned that the pace of these negotiations, particularly the Free Trade Agreement with Australia, is too quick and denying the opportunity for appropriate scrutiny and consultation.”  

The letter identified three issues with the trade agreement that it wanted to see addressed as a matter of urgency.

First, it asked that a more rigorous and meaningful process of engagement and consultation to be established with the industry around all free trade agreements, starting immediately with Australia.