The UK has recently completed its first ‘full’ trade deal since its exit from the EU. The UK-Australia deal is the first negotiated with another country from scratch post Brexit.
The comprehensive deal opens up free trade for a wide variety of goods and services to and from Australia.
At GRV 4 Fridge Vans, we like to keep our finger on the pulse when it comes to staying updated on situations that may impact our customers.
Since a large proportion of our customer base are farmers and butchers who use refrigerated vans to transport meat, this deal is of great interest.
Much of the concern surrounds aspects of the deal related to meat, especially beef. It is no secret that agriculture forms a key part of the UK-Australia trade deal and has been the largest area of contention for the British farming community.
Australia has high-intensity farming on a large scale, enabling them to farm meat quickly and at a competitive price. Many of the British farmers and butchers we serve are concerned that Australia’s meat production ability will negatively impact the UK market, which has arguably the highest farming standards in the world. However, these high standards make the UK less competitive on price.
UK trade secretary Liz Truss claims that the deal will not have any significance on the livelihoods of UK farmers. A 15-year zero-tariff import cap, consisting of tariff-rate quotas and additional measures to safeguard UK farming is to be introduced while UK farming adapts to life after Brexit.
From a UK perspective, the Australia deal is also seen as a stepping stone to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), consisting of Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Chile, Mexico, Vietnam, and others.
The deal also opens up many advantages for British farming exports. Britain’s high welfare farming practices are in great demand, particularly in parts of Asia.
As new markets emerge and ever more people become concerned with the quality of their food, UK farmers could see greater benefits of the deal, particularly if the UK joins the free-trade CPTPP. In this case, British meat exports could increase significantly — something that would certainly please farmers throughout the UK.
From a consumer perspective, imported Australian meat will give people greater choice. Some have argued that Australian imports may be focused at the higher end of the market. It is worth remembering that despite some concerns over animal welfare and farming practices, Australian meat is still considered world-class.
And while some restaurants may be keen to place Australian beef on their menu, we hope this will not have a detrimental impact on our hard-working British farmers. We believe that domestic demand for British meat will continue to be ever-popular with savvy UK consumers.
Having said that, the finer details of the deal are still to become clear. We do not yet know what the deal will truly mean in practice. Much of the worry surrounding meat imports is due to (understandable) uncertainty. That said, with fewer estimated meat imports from the EU, Australian meat could potentially fill some of the UK’s shortfall.
As part of our ongoing commitment to our customers and the British farming community, we will continue to monitor the situation and update as new information comes to light.