Meat industry welcomes Australia-UK free trade agreement

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Adam PoulsenCountryman
Australia’s free trade agreement with the UK will see a large increase in tariff-free Aussie beef and sheep meat exports.
Camera IconAustralia’s free trade agreement with the UK will see a large increase in tariff-free Aussie beef and sheep meat exports. Credit: ARSELA/Getty Images

Red meat industry leaders have welcomed the signing of Australia’s free trade agreement with the United Kingdom, with the landmark deal set to facilitate a huge increase in tariff-free Aussie beef and sheepmeat exports.

Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan signed the FTA late last month after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to its terms in June.

It will see a tariff-free quota of 35,000 tonnes of beef expanded to 110,000 tonnes over the next 10 years.

For sheep meat, a tariff-free quota of 25,000 tonnes will expand to 75,000 tonnes.

Tariffs on beef and sheepmeat will then be abolished after 10 years.

The move will give Australian producers and exporters improved access to more than 65 million UK consumers, with Australia better placed to supply the country’s demand for high quality red meat.

The Australian Meat Industry Council, the peak body for red meat exporters, said the FTA would “further strengthen the strong trade relationship” between the two countries.

“The expansion of current markets is very welcomed in a time of market volatility,” AMIC chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said.

“Our export members are exceptionally positive about re-engaging on expanded trade with the UK, post-Brexit.”

AMIC was heavily involved in negotiations through the Australia-UK Red Meat Market Access Taskforce.

“AMIC... continue to strive for market longevity, which is becoming a far more crucial issue than accessing new markets as we defend our current market shares globally,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“We have shared, as an export nation, a long history of meat exports to the UK, dating back to 1879 when 40 tonnes of frozen beef and mutton were shipped from Sydney to the UK.”

Australia-UK Red Meat Market Access Taskforce chair Andrew McDonald, an AMIC member, said the UK had traditionally been a “loyal purchaser” of Australian beef and sheepmeat, albeit in small volumes.

“Under the FTA, future trade will be more streamlined, removing burdensome costs from the red meat supply chain that ultimately disadvantage British consumers and stifle opportunities for market development,” he said.

“The FTA also represents an opportunity for Australian and British exporters to further diversify their markets and demonstrates both countries’ commitment to rules-based, open trade.”

Meat and Livestock Australia also welcomed the news, saying in a statement the deal had been met with “strong support from Australian red meat industry representatives”.

Australian exporters will benefit from immediate elimination of tariffs on more than 99 per cent of Australian goods exports to the UK, valued at around $9.2 billion, according to the Federal Government.

Australian households and businesses will save around $200 million a year as tariffs on British imports into Australia — including cars, whisky, confectionery, biscuits and cosmetics — are phased out over five years, with tariffs on almost all UK goods set to be eliminated.

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