/ 20 May 2021

Oz free trade deal splits UK Government

Making headlines in the UK is PM Boris Johnson’s support for a free trade deal with Australia to be signed next month – the first to be inked since Brexit. It would give Aussie farmers tariff-free access to UK food markets putting us on the same footing as the European Union – but it’s an arrangement that farmers in the UK are against. And they’re starting to get vocal about it, opening up a potential split within the UK Government.

DON’T THEY WANT MORE OF OUR LAMB CHOPS?
And beef, and cereals, and the list goes on… That’s not the issue. As the first agreement to be made, the problem is that the generous concessions made with Oz could become a baseline for future negotiations with other nations – like the US. Those in support of the deal, including PM Johnson and Trade Minister Liz Truss, say a failure to open their markets to other countries would signal that the UK’s focus was still on Europe due to its ongoing tariff-free access to the UK. And as you know, when you’ve broken up with someone, it’s good to show your ex that you’re back out there…

AND WE NEED NEW MARKETS BECAUSE OF THE WHOLE THING WITH CHINA?
Yes, the cluster disaster that has been our recent dealings with our biggest trading partner showed our exporters shouldn’t put all their lobsters in one Esky. But despite everything, PM Scott Morrison yesterday said when it comes to Australian trade with China, there have “never been bigger volumes”. In the year to March, we exported $149 billion worth of goods to China, down 0.6% from the previous year. That’s propped up by the rip-roaring trade in iron ore, our largest export to China. As for our beef, barley, wine, thermal coal, copper, cotton, seafood, sugar and timber producers – they’re still on ice. Labor’s Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong this week criticised the government’s approach to dealing with China, calling it “frenzied, afraid and lacking context”.

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