Australia farm trade deal ‘ideological’

A tariff and quota-free trade deal with Australia will put Scottish farmers and crofters out of business - and set a precedent which other countries seeking free access to the UK market will want to replicate.

Reacting to media reports that, in a split cabinet meeting, Boris Johnson had backed the 15-year transition to a zero-tariff, zero-quota trade deal with Australia which has been termed ‘an absolute betrayal’ by the industry, NFU Scotland chief executive, Scott Walker said that the fallout from such an agreement was ‘crystal clear’.

“No consultation has been had with NFU Scotland on such a proposal and any such transition would be wholly unacceptable to Scottish farmers and crofters.”

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He said that whether unfettered access on sensitive products like beef or lamb was offered now or in 15 years’ time, the impact on family farms would be devastating.

“With different production systems in Scotland compared to Australia, our high standards will be undermined.

“We cannot see how such a deal would be in line with the government’s own policy of protecting our standards of production and we continue to raise our deep concerns that the UK government is clearly continuing to pursue an Australian deal without fulfilling its commitment to have a statutory Trade and Agriculture Commission in place to properly scrutinise any future trade deals.”

He said that with the UK government’s own assessment concluding that a UK-Australia FTA would benefit UK GDP by 0.02 percent, the ‘sprint for a deal’ was about ideology rather than the UK’s best interests.

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