It has emerged that the trade deal between the UK and Australia could lead to an immediate nearly ten-fold increase in tariff-free imports of Australian beef, and a potential doubling of lamb imports in the first year of the deal.
The overall changes to Australia’s tariff-free access to the UK market are phased in over 10 years, but Australian Government sources have confirmed that major increases in the quotas for red meat will take place ‘immediately’.
According to figures released on the Australian Government website the Tariff Rate Quota for beef – the amount of Australian product which the UK will accept tariff-free – will rise from the current 3,761 tonnes to 35,000 tonnes straight away, subsequently rising to 110,000 tonnes over ten years.
Currently Australia can export 13,335 tonnes of lamb and sheepmeat to Britain tariff-free. Under the deal that will rise to 25,000 tonnes immediately, and gradually to 75,000 tonnes by 2031.
Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) Chief Executive Gwyn Howells said,
“The figures from the Australian Government suggest that, under this deal, the country will have an immediate right to export almost ten times as much beef, and twice as much lamb, to the UK as it does now.
“This news will do little to calm fears in our domestic livestock sector concerning the need to keep a level playing field. We produce to high standards in terms of welfare, not using hormones and other supplements used in some production systems overseas.
“We also produce beef and lamb very sustainably. Increasing our dependence on foreign produce risks importing food with a higher carbon footprint, which cannot be positive for our commitments on climate change or our food security.”