Britain and Australia have been in talks about a tariff free trade deal. The prospects looked optimistic initially but the British farmers and Conservatives have raised red flags about the agreement. The deal will ensure that Australia and the United Kingdom (UK) get free access to each other’s food markets without any quotas or tariffs. The deal is expected to be a step towards UK’s hopes of joining the ambitious Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership(CPTPP).
CPTPP is expected to take the British Economy to heights and the current negotiations have been done with that in mind. However, the British farmers have major concerns with a free trade deal with Australia. The first challenge is covering the high standard cost that exists in UK for food production. The cost of production of food in UK is exceptionally high due to the importance of food standards like the hygiene and welfare rules and thus competition with Australian products will result in losses. The British government hopes to finalise a deal by June before the G7 summit to be held in Cornwall. Australia is an important partner for UK. The Australian National Farmer’s Federation responded by assuring the UK farmers of an equally beneficial deal.
UK has been involved in trade deals on many fronts. Post the Brexit, the British economy has been the focus for the government. While there are speculations about optimistic prospects for the British economy, This will be the first deal to materialise after the Brexit. BBC reported that the uneasiness among the farmers can result into clashes among the Scottish and Welsh farmers which can in turn cause rifts and rebellions. The political stability is a concern for the UK government especially in the current circumstances when the deal with EU is being accepted gradually. People living near the borders have been adopting the new norms even now. This new trade deal will have a major impact on beef and lamb farmers majorly due to the comparative cost involved. The difference between the cultures of farming between the two countries has led to the worries amongst the UK farmers. Australia boasts of ranches that have high production values and thus is a source of anxiety to small scale farmers of UK.
Dan Tehan, the Australian Minister of Trade stated that there were plans to discuss nuances of the deal and finalise it by June. In the midst of the current global dynamics, this deal will be a strong step for UK politically as well as symbolically. Closeness to Australia will give it a leverage in Asia Pacific in future. UK is already in talks with Canada and Mexico too for trade deals.