March 19, 2024


Excessive restrictions hinder UK beef exports to Australia under new FTA




No British beef has been exported to Australia under the United Kingdom's first post-Brexit free-trade agreement (FTA) as there is too much red tape, NationalWorld reported.


Earlier in March, an exporter of beef jerky had its shipment blocked by Australian border controls as the UK government had not requested access. It is thought this is the first time a British business had tried to export beef to Australia under the FTA, which came into effect in May last year.


The trade deal, which was signed in December 2021, was the first FTA agreed by the UK government after Brexit, and was heralded by former UK prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. At the time, British farmers expressed concerns that they would be undercut by lower quality imported meat. Since then, Australian farmers have exported 1,700 tonnes of beef to the UK, according to the Department of Business and Trade.


However, no beef has been exported from the UK to Australia as the former does not have a reciprocal agreement. Experts think that under the current system, it would take around three years for an exporter to get approved by Australian authorities, even with the FTA.


The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) also wrote to Kemi Badenoch, the Business Secretary, urging her not to make the same mistake in future free-trade agreements.


BMPA chief executive officer Nick Allen wrote: "Our members are always looking proactively for business opportunities and seeing if they can also benefit reciprocally. There are UK operators in Australia right now trying to do this and they have indeed identified opportunities to export beef products to that market only to find that they are unable do to so as, currently, Australia will not permit the import of UK beef or sheep meat without undertaking a protracted approval process which, put simply, means that Australia considers UK beef and lamb not safe to import unless and until we prove otherwise."


Allen asked Badenoch for this to be "addressed urgently and that the government requests that Australia reciprocates and allows the import of UK beef and lamb without preconditions".


He added: "Again, we feel UK farmers would be deeply concerned if it emerged that we are prepared to import Australian meat and meat products without restriction but are unable to export to that market despite there being an FTA."


A UK government spokesperson told NationalWorld: "The (UK) Prime Minister has been clear that we will always put the interest of farmers first and foremost in our trade deals – and we are actively seeking new trade opportunities for our farmers and food producers through our network of agri-food attaches.


"We work closely with the farming industry to identify, prioritise and resolve trade barriers for food products, including British beef. Industry have been clear that Australia is currently not a priority for market access, but we will keep this under close review should the sector present a strengthened case to explore this market."


- NationalWorld

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