UK trade deal a huge win for Australian farmers

Primary producers and traders will significantly benefit from new market access opportunities, as the Albanese Government’s Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA) comes into force today.

The gold-standard agreement will drive increased trade and economic growth, with tariffs removed on over 99 percent of our $10 billion two-way merchandise trade with the UK (2022). For some agricultural products like beef, sheep meat, dairy and sugar, Australia will have access to expanding tariff quota volumes – within 10 years these tariff quotas will be eliminated completely.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt welcomed the announcement and said the FTA provides significant benefits to the agriculture sector.

“From today, Australian farmers will enjoy duty-free market access for a range of goods including beef, sheep meat, wine, sugar, dairy, grains, horticulture, and seafood exports,” Minister Watt said.

“The agreement is one of the most comprehensive, innovative, and ambitious FTAs Australia has signed with any trading partner—and it will provide a foundation for greater profits for Australian producers.

“Tariffs on goods such as wine, short and medium grain rice, honey, olive oil and nuts will be eliminated immediately and duty-free transitional quotas will be established for beef, sheep meat, wheat, barley, sugar, and dairy, providing instant benefits for Australian farming communities.

“The FTA creates faster customs clearance times while maintaining our world-leading biosecurity measures which ensure Australia is protected from harmful diseases, pests, and weeds.

“This is a huge achievement and a great win for Australian agriculture and our farmers.”

Australia’s agricultural trade with the UK in 2021-22 was worth $868 million with key exports including wine ($449M), canola seeds ($150M), lamb and mutton ($135M), beef and veal ($15M), chickpeas ($12M), wool ($12M) and cocoa and chocolate ($9M).

Total agricultural exports to the UK reached an all-time high in 2021-2022. Australian agriculture, forestry and fisheries exports to the UK increased by $225 million since 2019-20 ($643M to $868M).

Further details on the benefits of the FTA for Australian farmers can be found here: www.dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/not-yet-in-force/ukfta-outcomes-documents/trade-and-investment/benefits-farmers

Quotes from industry

Lee McLean, CEO of Australian Grape and Wine:

The UK is Australia’s second largest wine export market by value at $359 million, and our largest by volume with 208 million litres of wine exported to the UK to March 2023.

The elimination of import tariffs under this agreement will see a level playing field for Australia’s wine exports with our major competitors from Continental Europe.

Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are a major contributor to improving export market access and removing barriers to trade. These are now more important than ever with the Australian grape and wine sector’s continued prioritised efforts to grow and diversify our export markets.

Owen Menkens, Chairman of CANEGROWERS:

Entry-into-force of the Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom is great news for sugar. After a fifty-year hiatus, our friends in the UK will be able to buy high quality, sustainably produced Australian sugar. CANEGROWERS looks forward to the resumption of trade.

Andrew McDonald, Chair of the Australia-UK Red Meat Market Access Taskforce:

The FTA marks a new chapter in Australia-UK trade relations and, for our sector, provides an important framework to continue to do business with British customers and consumers.

The FTA provides an opportunity to modernise our trading relationship for the future, and we look forward to more streamlined trade and reduced supply chain costs with the implementation of the agreement.

We congratulate the Prime Ministers on finalising this significant milestone in Australia-UK relations and express our gratitude to all who have worked diligently to realise such an outcome.