A Westminster committee has poured doubt on the potential benefits of the UK-Australia trade deal, with MPs claiming that it could cause long-term damage to Britain’s agricultural sector.
The International Trade Committee today released its report into the trade deal, the first to be negotiated from scratch post-Brexit, which criticised the government for “overselling” the agreement.
The deal will see almost all tariffs removed on goods going either way over the next 15 years, which will lead to greater access to UK markets for Australian beef and lamb producers.
This in particular has angered the UK’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU) who claim the deal will undercut British farmers.
The government’s own figures also point out that the deal will only add around 0.08 per cent to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), however government figures insist these were preliminary numbers and that the real impact will be higher over time.
International Trade Committee chair, and Scottish National Party MP, Angus MacNeil called on the government to produce a “full assessment of the winners and losers across all economic sectors and nations of the UK”.
He said the deal “did not secure geographical protections for iconic British goods, such as Melton Mowbray pork pies or Scotch whisky … This means there is nothing preventing UK goods from being impersonated ‘down under’”.
“The government must level with the public – this trade deal will not have the transformative effects Ministers would like to claim,” he said.
A Department for International Trade spokesperson said: “Our landmark trade agreement with Australia will unlock £10.4bn of additional bilateral trade, support economic growth in every part of the UK and deliver for the 15,300 businesses already exporting goods to Australia.
“We have always said that we will not compromise the UK’s high environmental, animal welfare or food safety standards, and the independent Trade & Agriculture Commission recently concluded that the deal does not undermine the UK’s robust domestic protections.”