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Australia anxious for a UK and EU red meat trade deal

A post-Brexit trade deal is set to dictate any changes to Australia’s free trade agreements with the United Kingdom and European Union including the red meat trade.

Meat and Livestock Australia market access manager Mary Johnson said the Brexit transition period due to end December 31, and whether a deal can be reached between the EU and UK had big implications for Australia’s exports, including the red meat trade.

“As a consequence of the single market, trade between the EU and UK has been intrinsically linked,” she said.

“The post-Brexit trade deal will dictate any changes in the red meat trade and is obviously an important outcome.”

Ms Johnson said Australia’s EU tariff rate quotas are going to be apportioned between the EU and the UK.

“From January 1, our access into the markets is actually being further constrained,” she said.

“As a consequence, the two separate, but parallel FTAs Australia is negotiating are really the best mechanism for us to secure long-term preferential access into these high value markets.”

The ninth round of negotiations of the Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement and the third round of negotiations of the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement have just been held, both virtually in the era of COVID-19, and over two-week periods.

“While red meat products, classified by the EU as ‘sensitive’, are yet to factor into negotiations, all reports from the European and Australian negotiators indicate there is high ambition from both sides, that talks are progressing well and they are keen to continue negotiations in 2021,” Ms Johnson said.

“There is optimism that the deal could be done next year but we’re more interested in the substance of the deal, as it will dictate our trade terms for years to come, as opposed to meeting a deadline.”

Ms Johnson is based in London and has just experienced England’s second COVID-19 induced national lockdown.

She said the UK appears keen to secure FTAs and reposition itself as ‘Global Britain’.

“They’re talking about the A-UK FTA being a ‘gold standard’ deal that’s very comprehensive and a kind of template they can use for other trade deals going forward,” Ms Johnson said.

“However, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy conversation.”

Mr Johnson said market access offers were made for the most recent round of negotiations.

“In the EU, the key policy topic of interest is sustainability, the Green Deal, and how they can filter that out in the EU and also in their relationships with other trading partners,” she said

“Australia and the EU have shared values when it comes to sustainability and farming.

“Our CN30 target and Beef Sustainability Framework are extremely valuable programs, because they are a clear illustration of the good work Australian farmers are already doing.”

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