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Liz Truss: clashed over deal
Terms of a trade deal between the UK and Australia have been agreed that will open up the market in goods and labour.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison agreed the deal in Downing Street over a dinner comprising Welsh lamb, Scottish smoked salmon and Australian wine.
The deal will see tariffs gradually eliminated on all goods traded between the two over the next 15 years.
Mr Johnson hailed the deal as “a new dawn” in relations with Australia.
“This is global Britain at its best – looking outwards and striking deals that deepen our alliances and help ensure every part of the country builds back better from the pandemic,” said the PM.
The deal is expected to add around 0.02% to UK GDP. The Government suggested this morning the deal will save households up to £34m a year.
The deal will include intensified co-operation on security, climate change, science and technology.
More Brits and Australians will be given the opportunity to live and work in the other country.
Unlike the EU “rollover deals” which the UK has signed with other countries, this is the first to be negotiated from scratch since the UK left the EU.
It is expected to open doors to the UK joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The UK government insists this could provide British farmers with huge opportunities, while the Scottish and Welsh governments, together with a number of food and drink trade bodies and farmers believe it will be damaging.
An announcement is expected around 9am today. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan, who held talks in London earlier this year with International Trade Secretary Liz Truss called the pact a “win for jobs, businesses, free trade and highlights what two liberal democracies can achieve while working together”.
Australian British Chamber of Commerce chief executive David McCredie tweeted the deal would create “many great opportunities for trade, investment and collaboration”.
However, there is bound to be a backlash to the deal from Scottish and Welsh ministers and those in the UK government who have raised concerns. Environment Secretary, George Eustice has clashed with Ms Truss over food standards and cheap imports.
Farmers in Australia use some hormone growth promoters, pesticides, and feed additives that are banned in the UK.
The National Farmers Union says that because of the scale of farms in Australia beef can be produced at a lower cost. Scottish farmers feel particularly vulnerable to cheap imports.
Major contributors to Scotland’s farming industry, including Scottish Land and Estates, Scottish Butchers Federation and the National Sheep Association Scotland this week co-signed a letter from SNP MSP Jim Fairlie to Mr Johnson about their concerns around the tariff-free trade deal with Australia.
At the weekend Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon wrote to Ms Truss echoing the concerns of 14 Scottish industry representatives over the proposed deal and calling for the UK Government to publish an assessment of the cumulative impact of free trade agreements with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
However the outline agreement sees a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years.