SLE comment on UK-Australia trade deal

Press Release

Scottish Land & Estates, which represents rural businesses across Scotland, has issued its initial reaction to the announcement of a UK-Australia trade deal.

Mark Tennant, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said:

“This is the first post-Brexit trade deal which has been drafted from scratch and already the assurances given to UK farming and food producers by government appear to have been set aside. Whilst UK farming cannot and should not fear competing internationally, we have some of the highest levels of environmental and production standards in the world and our politicians need to recognise the value of guaranteeing these values.

“The successful signing of a FTA may be a breakthrough for government but it only means the removal of tariffs and quotas – it does not instantly increase the market share of UK farming. To take market share amongst Australian consumers we need government to work with us on a marketing drive for our products. Unlike the whisky industry, the farming industry’s marketing capacity and its cooperatives are weak, certainly when we are competing with countries which have been trading on world markets for many years.

“We await further detail on what the cap on tariff-free imports from Australia will entail but we should be clear that this is not a gripe aimed specifically at one territory – we are concerned that future trade deals will also seek to undermine UK food production and bit by bit, the overall impact of all trade agreements taken together will be seismic. This is particularly pertinent when the UK is pressing ahead with talks on joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“We understand that government wants to get on and agree new trade deals but we are alarmed that British farming could be seen as a necessary sacrifice to enable that to happen.”