The food and beverage industry criticizes Australia’s “hurried” trade talks.
Scotland’s food and drink organizations are concerned that trade talks with Australia are being rushed, accusing the UK government of avoiding scrutiny and consultation.
14 firms and trade organizations have signed an open letter to UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, warning about the way the discussions are being conducted.
Ms Truss has stated that British farmers had nothing to fear and a “awful lot to gain” from a free trade agreement with Australia, while also implying that a 5% whisky tariff may be eliminated in the first accord drafted from scratch since the UK left the EU.
However, opponents of the planned agreement are concerned that the zero tariffs, zero quotas arrangement demanded by the Australian government will result in British farmers and businesses being undercut by their Australian counterparts.
The significance of the UK-Australia agreement goes beyond its relative worth to both countries; it could set the tone for all future trade agreements.
The open letter’s 14 signatories, who represent Scotland’s food and drink industry, have now expressed alarm about the discussions, implying that they could establish a dangerous precedent for future partnerships.
The National Farmers’ Union Scotland, the Scottish Seafood Association, and Scotland Food & Drink were among the signatories to the letter, which stated: “We recognize the UK Government’s determination to act fast to develop new opportunities with states outside the EU.”
“However, we are concerned that the speed of these discussions, notably the free trade agreement with Australia, is too fast, precluding adequate review and consultation.
“Trade agreements are complicated, and markets are volatile; the Brexit deal has proved this.
“The dangers here are immense for the entire food and beverage supply chain, and we remain quite concerned about the impact on sensitive sections of our industry in the lack of any formal impact study to demonstrate the contrary.”
“We embrace an ambitious trade policy provided it creates new prospects for our producers,” it continued.
“However, we must not be fooled into believing that the EU market is still the best. (This is a brief piece.)