Australia trade deal ‘won’t be a lowering in standards’ says expert
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The Prime Minister led talks to smooth out tensions over the negotiations after fears that UK farmers will lose out. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Environment Secretary George Eustice are split over the proposals and their possible impact on British farms. Ms Truss, who is aiming to agree a deal in principle by early June, wants a zero-tariff, zero-quota approach.
But that would make it difficult for British beef and lamb producers to compete with Australian super-farms and Mr Eustice has suggested quotas could protect them.
Ms Truss reportedly “left the room happier” than Mr Eustice.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, along with ministers from Scotland and Northern Ireland, raised concerns with Cabinet minister Michael Gove.
Mr Drakeford said: “We have real concerns about what a quota-free, tariff-free deal would mean for our sheep and dairy industry. We want a level playing field. How can we compete when our animal welfare and environmental standards are higher than in Australia?”
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said Mr Johnson “wants to maximise the massive opportunities presented by post-Brexit trade deals.
“Any agreement would include protections for our agriculture industry and won’t undercut UK farmers”.
But the spokesman refused to be drawn on what measures to protect British farmers would be.
Patrick Holden, chief executive of the Sustainable Food Trust, said: “Australian beef will likely be full of antibiotics and growth-promoting hormones.”
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