Farmers ‘big winners’ of UK trade deal

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The Australian agricultural sector would be the big winner of a new free trade agreement with the UK, the chief negotiator has stated.

Elisabeth Bowes of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said a parliamentary inquiry ratifying the agreement would bring major benefits to Australia.

Australia is the first country to negotiate a trade deal with the UK since it left the European Union.

Ms Bowes said it would bring “significantly greater opportunities” to Australian exporters, particularly in agriculture.

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She said more than 99 percent of Australian goods entering the UK would be duty-free, up from 89 percent.

“This additional 10 percent of duty-free access benefits Australian agricultural exporters in particular for beef, mutton, sugar and dairy products,” she said.

The duty-free quotas would increase over time and eventually all tariffs would be abolished.

“This result reduces and ultimately eliminates the current highly restrictive quotas and tariffs that apply to Australian agricultural exporters in the UK,” said Ms Bowes.

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Other implications of the agreement would allow Australians to take three years of working holidays in the UK from two years, and raise the age limit on those trips from 30 to 35.

“Potential for greater mobility of skilled workers between our two countries is vital to the economic recovery from COVID-19, as recognized recently at the Jobs and Skills Summit,” said Ms Bowes.

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Labor committee chairman Josh Wilson noted that an independent assessment in the UK found that the deal would add $3.9 billion to the country’s operating profit by 2035, increase production in 20 sectors and increase three would have adverse consequences.

Mr Wilson noted that no similar assessments had been carried out in Australia.

The investigation continues.

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