Furious farmers lash out at Australia trade deal with stinging criticism of Liz Truss

UK post-Brexit trade deals are 'minor' says Bradshaw

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The National Farmers Union (NFU) claimed the deal with Canberra would open the floodgates for imports. Under the terms of the agreement, quotas on imports from Australia such as meat will be phased out over 15 years.

It means in the future there will be no limit on agricultural products shipped to Britain from Down Under.

However, the NFU’s director of trade and business strategy, Nick von Westenholz, said that while there would be an influx in imports, there was very little chance of an increase in UK agriculture goods sent abroad.

“The upsides of this deal for British agriculture are very limited,” he told peers on the international agreements committee.

“By and large, Australia is a massive net exporter in agricultural products and in food.

“Therefore, just by necessity, the opportunities for us to start significantly increasing our exports to market on the other side of the world are relatively limited.”

He added: “It doesn’t create many, if any, opportunities for UK farmers, primarily because Australia is already largely liberalised.

“There are areas of liberalisation as a result of this deal but it doesn’t really create many opportunities we can identify.

“But it does of course significantly liberalise over a period of year, completely liberalise agricultural goods from Australia into the UK, which poses a risk for UK farmers, so there’s limited upside and potential significant downside.”

While critical of the deal he admitted that higher valued products such as in the dairy sector would benefit.

As well as quotas being removed on imports, those businesses currently curtailed by restrictions on export numbers will be liberated.

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Ms Truss took charge of leading negotiations on the UK-Australia trade deal while International Trade Secretary.

She unveiled a provisional deal in June 2021, with her successor in the trade brief, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, sealing the final pact in December.

In total, the deal is expected to unlock £10.4 billion of additional trade.

Officials also say it will boost the UK’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) of 13 rapidly developing countries.

The UK’s accession to the bloc will open up fresh opportunities for farmers and other British businesses.

Ms Truss has previously denied farmers will be hurt by the deal.

She said after signing the provisional deal: We can see the evidence, that sales of British beef international are growing to places like Asia-Pacific and the United States.

“People want to buy high quality British products produced in a high animal welfare way.”

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