UK food producers ‘will struggle’ with Australia trade deal


It has been reported that the Government is in discussion with its Australian counterpart to nail down a deal which could see cheaper food imports from across the Atlantic, in return for zero tariffs.

While the Government’s repeated commitments to safeguard standards and to not undercut UK farmers through unfair competition, concerns remained that these latest efforts could result in local producers losing out.

NFU president Minette Batters said: “We need to make sure concessions to our hugely valuable home market are not given away lightly.

“There is a very real risk that, if we get it wrong, UK farming will suffer irreversible damage rather than flourish in the way we all desire, to the detriment of our environment, our food security and our rural communities.

‘Struggle to compete’

“The British Government faces a choice. It must recognise that opening up zero tariff trade on all imports of products such as beef and lamb means British farming – working to its current high standards – will struggle to compete.”

The NFU warned with the introduction of zero tariff trade, the Government would be left with two options. It could either lower standards, against its previous pledges – and public opinion – to support UK producers; or it could choose to see producers cease trading if they were unable to compete.

“Negotiators must also be mindful of the cumulative impact of our free trade agreements, which the Government has said will be concluded in a matter of weeks,”​ Batters added.