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Video: Australian free trade deal could be ‘catastrophic’ for UK sheep farmers

The NSA are ’seriously alarmed’ by the prospect of an Australian free trade deal post-Brexit

UK trade negotiations with Australia have ’seriously alarmed’ the National Sheep Association (NSA).

 

Australia and the UK have held preliminary discussions about a trade deal after the UK leaves the EU. Talks between the EU and Australia are at more advanced stages which could challenge UK lamb on the European market.

 

Australia currently has a quote to export about 20,000 tonnes of sheep meat to the EU per year but the NSA said Australia has already been pushing to extend its quota and it could see the UK as a prime destination for its lamb and mutton products.

 

The NSA has said the sheep sector must not ’be sacrificed for the benefit of others’.

 

At prime minister’s questions on Wednesday (September 7) Theresa May said she recognised the importance of farming in trade negotiations.

 

Imports

Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said the industry plays a ’fundamental role’ in maintaining the UK countryside and should not be overlooked in trade negotiations.

 

"We encourage the UK Government to work hard on these deals, but not to rush into agreements without considering the wider consequences."

 

Mr Stocker said the UK sector is already ’suffering unacceptably high levels of imports of New Zealand lamb’.

 

UK imports

  • 15% of UK sheep meat imports come from Australia
  • 3% of UK beef imports come from Australia
  • 70% of UK sheep meat imports come from New Zealand

Brexit

"We would be keen to see an outcome of Brexit being tighter controls on New Zealand lamb being allowed into this country, and we certainly need to avoid making the situation worse by allowing Australian product to head our way too."

 

Around 95 per cent of UK sheep exports went to the EU in 2015 and NSA said the sector’s priority is a trade deal with the EU.

 

READ MORE: Government must not use agriculture as 'bargaining chip' in Brexit talks

Video

Watch now as Australian Trade Minister, Steven Ciobo calls for agriculture to be included in a future EU-Australia free trade deal

 

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