Banff and Buchan MP welcomes UK-Australia deal as doubts remain over assurances to the farming sector – Grampian Online

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The UK has secured a trade deal with Australia eliminating tariffs on all UK goods and boosting jobs and businesses across the country, in the first major trade deal negotiated from scratch by the Government since leaving the EU.

The main elements of the deal were agreed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a meeting in Downing Street on Monday.

A final Agreement in Principle will be published in the coming days.

The leaders reaffirmed the enduring partnership between the UK and Australia during their discussion and agreed to work closely together on defence, technology collaboration and tackling climate change – including through a future Clean Tech Partnership.

The new Free Trade Agreement means iconic Scottish products, such as Scotch whisky and salmon, will be cheaper to sell into Australia, boosting Scottish industries and jobs.

Scotland’s financial services, manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors will also receive a boost

Across the UK, it is estimated that around 3.5 million jobs will be supported by this deal.

Farmers will be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, using tariff rate quotas and other safeguards.

Under the agreement, Brits under the age of 35 will be able to travel and work in Australia more freely, opening opportunities for young people.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our new free-trade agreement opens fantastic opportunities for British businesses and consumers, as well as young people wanting the chance to work and live on the other side of the world.

Banff and Buchan MP and Scottish Office minister David Duguid said:“This is fantastic news for British and Scottish businesses and jobs, including here in Banff and Buchan.

“This deal opens up a huge new market for our world class exports and provides opportunities for growth, job creation and will be a great help to our economic recovery from the pandemic.

“I have discussed with NFU Scotland regarding the concerns they have raised but I have every confidence in their ability to seize the opportunities of this deal and take advantage of the new markets that are opened up to our produce.

“And, crucially, this is a steppingstone that paves the way to our entry to rapidly growing Asia-Pacific markets.

“The CPTPP is a fast-growing free trade area of £9 trillion and are eager to buy precisely the kind of high quality, high standard food and drink that Scotland produces.”

The mood was less than positive from farming union, NFU Scotland.

In a statement is said: “It will ultimately provide Australia with unfettered access to UK food and drink markets through a deal that has yet to have any proper parliamentary scrutiny.

“The process in agreeing the deal sets a dangerous precedent for future trade deals, with the potential that the cumulative impact of all such deals on Scottish farmers and crofters will be substantial.

“NFU Scotland understands that, under the deal, British farmers will be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports from Australia for 15 years, using tariff rate quotas and other safeguards.

“That suggests that free access being granted to one of the biggest agricultural exporters in the world will simply be delayed.

“Equally worrying for the Scottish industry is the potential that the UK government goes on to approach other trade negotiations with countries like New Zealand, USA, Canada and Mexico on the same basis.

“The cumulative impact of these deals will have a major impact on UK farming, and, if handled badly. it may become impossible for some of our family farming businesses to continue to compete.

“The Union believes parliamentary scrutiny of the deal is vital but, in the absence of the promised Statutory Trade and Agriculture Commission, the route to effective scrutiny has yet to be defined.”

NFU Scotland president Martin Kennedy said: “As detail on the proposed terms of agreement around an Australian trade deal emerge, deep concerns will remain about its impact on Scotland’s farmers, crofters and our wider food and drink sector.

“The deal has not been afforded the appropriate level of scrutiny and consultation and has been agreed in advance of the promised statutory Trade and Agriculture Commission being established to scrutinise such deals. “

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