Australian beef farmers are not looking to compete with British producers, according to a representative from the country’s red meat exports body.
Mary Johnson, market access manager at Meat and Livestock Australia – the Australian equivalent of Quality Meat Scotland – made the comments while giving evidence to the House of Lords International Agreements Committee.
The committee was taking evidence on the potential impact of a UK-Australia trade deal on the UK farming sector.
Ms Johnson said Australian trade negotiators were looking for a zero-tariff, zero-quota trade deal with the UK.
She said imports of Australian red meat to the UK were currently very low – they represented 0.5% of all beef imports and 14% of all sheepmeat imports in 2020.
“If British customers need high quality red meat products then we as Australian producers certainly would be happy to supply that demand,” Ms Johnson told the committee.
“We are not looking to compete against British producers but we just know that there’s a requirement in the market for imports and we want to be able to compete in that environment.”
The potential threat to UK farmers of a tariff-free, quota-free trade deal with Australia was highlighted by NFU director of trade and business strategy Nick von Westenholz.
He said any move to completely open up the market to imports of Australian red meat needed to be phased in and include safeguards to protect UK farmers.
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