Australia free trade deal 'will not flood the UK with cheap food imports' report says

Fri 5 Nov 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

The post-Brexit free trade agreement between the UK and Australia offers a mix of threats and opportunities for UK farmers, according to a report by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

In what is billed as the first in-depth analysis of the deal which was agreed in June but is still to be fully ratified, ADHB looked at the implications for various sectors of the UK agriculture sector.

Farmers Weekly reports AHDB head of strategic insight David Swales saying that the deal could set a template for future deals.

Chinese blockage

Swales warned that Australia’s fractious relationship with China could lead it to send sheep meat blocked by China to the UK, undercutting British farmers.

“There’s potential for big shocks and deviations to occur, which could mean more of an impact on our domestic market,” he told Food Manufacture.

However, analysis by the AHDB found that dairy exports to Australia could be a growth area with the potential for 2,600 tonnes of cheese to be sold.

Although the scale of Australian farming means it can produce food cheaply and there is limited scope for UK producers to compete at a commodity level, suggestions that the UK will be flooded with low-cost agricultural products may prove inaccurate, it claims. 

EU substitution

Some increases in meat imports from Australia will be offset by a reduction in imports from the EU, the report claims.

Farmers in Northern Ireland are worried about the impact of the UK-New Zealand trade deal, reports the Express. Edwin Poots, Northern Ireland’s agriculture minister, has warned that this will place enormous pressure on UK farmers. 

New Zealand's quotas for lamb and beef exports to the UK will gradually be increased once the deal is implemented, reports the BBC.

The quotas will last for 15 years on beef and lamb imports, but for butter, cheese and some other dairy products quotas will be removed after three years.

Also in Farmers Weekly, four UK farming union presidents have called on the UK governments and global leaders at the Cop26 to support a sustainable and productive future for farming. 

Global price rises

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that global food prices have hit the highest level in over a decade after rising by more than 30% in the last year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says. 

UN figures highlighted the soaring cost of cereals and vegetable oils around the world. 

Vegetable oil prices hit a record high after rising by almost 10% in October. 

Disruptions to supplies, high commodity prices, factory closures and political tensions are helping to push up prices.