Australia trade deal: what you need to know

Stitched up without consultation with the Scottish Government or regard for Scotland’s farming communities, the UK-Australia trade deal will have a significantly damaging impact on Scotland’s farmers, crofters and food producers.

Here’s how.

Mass imports of Australian agri-foods risk putting Scottish farms out of business

Australian beef and sheep meat are produced on a scale not seen on Scottish family farms, with Australian products produced on crammed farms with lower standards and lower costs.

For example, the quotas on Australian beef imports into the UK will go up from just under 5,000 tonnes to 35,000 tonnes immediately after the deal is signed, before increasing even further.

This will flood the market with cheap, low-quality Australian meat that risks leading to a race to the bottom and undercutting high-quality Scottish produce.

It also raises major concerns over animal welfare

The UK government said they would uphold food standards, but voted against several amendments to the Agriculture and Trade Bills that would have put these protections into law.

The Australia deal risk setting animal welfare standards back by decades, and the RSPCA have said that the “losers will be billions of farmed animals and UK farmers.”

Just as they did with our fishing communities, the Tories are about to sell out Scotland’s farmers

While Australia published the deal’s details and openly celebrated it – the UK government dragged its feet for days, eventually publishing it in the middle of the night, hoping nobody would notice.

The Australian Deputy Prime Minister said “The big winners, in the UK-Australian trade deal, are Australian producers, Australian farmers, indeed Australia full stop… I’m not worried about the Welsh, Scottish & NI beef producers.”

The fact that the details of the deal are being celebrated in Canberra, but being concealed in London, really gives the game away.

Just as the Tories have treated Scotland’s fishing interests as “expendable”, the UK government failed to stand up for farmers’ interests in these trade talks – instead bowing to pressure to secure a deal at any cost.

Yet again, Scotland has been sidelined and ignored by Boris Johnson

Throughout the Brexit process, Westminster has never taken into account the effect of its action on Scotland, completely refusing to listen to the voices of Scotland’s businesses, communities and Parliament.

This trade deal is no different. The Scottish Government has twice written about “significant concerns” to the UK government’s international trade secretary Liz Truss – and still hasn’t received a reply.

The letter from SNP MSP Jim Fairlie to Boris Johnson, co-signed by key players in Scotland’s farming industry, has also been ignored.

It’s now essential that the deal is brought to a vote in the House of Commons as well as the Scottish Parliament.

The UK government must clean on the deal’s full impact

The President of NFU Scotland warned that after the fishing sell-out, “Scottish farming is next to be sacrificed – and once again it’s Scotland’s key industries which will bear the brunt of a Tory Brexit people in Scotland did not vote for”.

Sustain, which represent over 100 food and farming organisations, expressed concern that the impact of the deal “on health has not been fully assessed, as well the economic impact on UK farm businesses”.

Amid mounting pressure from Scotland’s farmers and organisations, it’s now urgent that the UK government stops dodging scrutiny.

You would need 200 Australia deals to make up for the economic hit of Brexit

It’s clear that this deal does not even remotely compensate for the damage to our economy caused by the hard Tory Brexit.

The UK government’s own analysis said a deal with Australia would only be worth an 0.02% increase in GDP over 15 years, and that’s under an optimistic scenario.

It won’t even cover 1% of the lost opportunities from Europe’s markets due to Brexit – all while inflicting a damaging impact on Scotland’s agricultural sector.

Are the Scottish Tories misleading farmers?

On 13 June, the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack, said this on the BBC Scotland Sunday Show: “We will have safeguards in around the amount of product coming, so we won’t see the market swamped.”

However, just two days later, his assurances about effective limits on total imports and a long transition period both turned out to be false. Alister Jack was either lying, or even he was being kept in the dark by the UK government.

The small print of the deal reveals that 60 times the present level of Australian beef and lamb can come in immediately under Boris Johnson’s deal – and there will be no 15 year phasing-in period after all.