Ahead of the announcement of the expected trade deal with Australia, an economist insisted the UK had waited too long to open up its economy. Disregarding the claim that any deal would undermine British farmers, economist Catharine McBride argued that cattle ranchers are an inefficient part of the sector. Ms McBride also warned that opening the country to zero tariffs and quotas is the only way to welcome Brexit dividends.
Arguing the argument against a deal with Australia, the economist insisted Australian farmers pose no threat to the UK market.
As the National Farmers Union (NFU) criticized the government for its proposed zero quota deal, Ms McBride revealed that only a small part of Australia’s agricultural industry offers competition to Britain.
She also attacked the NFU for its lack of opposition to zero tariffs with the EU, which is in direct competition with British farmers.
She wrote: “Where was the NFU outcry over the tariff-free, quota-free trade deal with the EU?”
“EU farmers are in direct competition with UK farmers.
“They produce the same crops, in the same season, mainly with the same temperate climate, and sell in the same markets.
“Australian farmers do not present such a threat.
“Australian farmers have specialized in areas where they have a comparative advantage, including grazing sheep and cattle.
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Ahead of the deal’s announcement, some also warned that the UK’s high agricultural and hygiene standards may not be met.
However, in another blow to the alarmism of the rest, Ms McBride insisted that Australian standards are higher than UK standards in some areas.
Indeed, she claimed that UK standards did not meet Australia’s SPS pork regulations.
She concluded: “There is no point in further protecting what must surely be the worst performing industry in the UK.
“Instead, the government should sign tariff-free trade deals with more efficient producers, like Australia, that will benefit the whole country.”
While a deal has not been announced, Liz Truss is expected to include a 15-year transition stage to filter out changes to the trade.
In doing so, she insisted that farmers will have enough time to adjust to the new deal.
The UK has also set up the Trade and Agriculture Commission to review and inform government trade policies.