Boris Johnson: Australia trade deal is ‘fantastic opportunity’
BORIS Johnson said farmers would have a “fantastic opportunity” under the free trade agreements, as reports suggest the UK government is on the verge of signing a post-Brexit deal with Australia.
Downing Street said “negotiations are still ongoing” with Canberra, despite several reports claiming ministers settled their differences on the terms of a deal on Thursday.
There had been concerns – which were reportedly aired around the Cabinet table by Environment Secretary George Eustice and Duchy of Lancaster Chancellor Michael Gove – about the impact that a zero quota deal with Australia could have on British meat products, especially beef and lamb. , which must achieve higher standards.
But The Sun reported the Prime Minister was set to offer Australia a 15-year transition to a tariff-free, quota-free trade pact, the free trade arguments of International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and of Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng being successful.
The Prime Minister, when asked about the draft deal yesterday, said he wanted the UK “to see these new openings not as threats but as opportunities” while praising the benefits of free trade.
Speaking to broadcasters in Portsmouth, where he was visiting the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth II, Mr Johnson said: ‘We are certainly looking for free trade agreements with countries around the world, and I am here on this incredible aircraft carrier, which is truly a symbol of the way we want to do things; we see a global future for this country.
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“I think free trade agreements present a fantastic opportunity for our farmers, for businesses of all kinds and for manufacturers.
“I think it’s vital that as a great historic free trade nation that has grown to prosperity through free trade, and indeed through the Royal Navy, that we see these new openings not as threats but as opportunities. ”
Mr Johnson chaired a meeting of senior colleagues on Thursday as he sought to resolve the alleged dispute between Ms Truss and Mr Eustice.
Ms Truss, who said she wanted an agreement in principle by early June – which would come in time to be presented to the G7 meeting in Cornwall – would support a zero-rate, zero-quota approach to to stimulate trade flows. .
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But such a move could make UK farmers vulnerable to competition from beef and lamb producers in Australia, and Mr Eustice has suggested that quotas could be used to protect them.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has assured farmers they will not be “cut back” under a deal with Canberra, which No 10 also reiterated.
“The government has always said that any free trade agreement concluded with Australia or, indeed, with other countries in the world, will of course take into account the very high welfare standards that we have here in the Kingdom. United and will of course ensure that UK agriculture and UK farmers are not undervalued, are not at a disadvantage, given the quality and excellence of the products produced here in the UK ”, said Mr. Buckland on BBC Radio 4’s Today.
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A spokesperson for the Prime Minister, who said talks were underway, said: ‘We have made it clear that any deal with Australia must work for UK businesses, producers and consumers, and we are negotiating on this base. ”
A zero-tariff deal could put Mr Johnson on a collision course with the new DUP chief, who said there was a ‘high risk’ for Northern Irish farmers, as well as the rest of the UK. United, if such conditions were agreed. Edwin Poots, Minister of Agriculture for Northern Ireland, who will take over as DUP chief from the ousted
Arlene Foster said: “Australia has a number of distinct advantages over Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, in terms of land available for agriculture, climate and higher standards. low, which allows its farmers to produce at a considerably lower price. cost, particularly in the beef and sheepmeat sectors.
“Therefore, Australian beef and mutton exports to the UK have a lot of potential to increase dramatically over time if tariffs are removed.
“Australian beef and mutton products have the potential to undermine UK producers and reduce Northern Ireland’s market share in Britain, which is our most important market for these products.”