The post-Brexit trade deal signed with Australia last week will see British agriculture, forestry and fishing take a £94m hit, the Government’s own impact assessment shows.
By Arj SinghDeputy Political Editor inews.co.uk
There is also an expected £225m hit to the semi-processed food sector, which includes tinned products, as part of a “reallocation of resources within the economy”.
The impact assessment refers to Australia as a “large, competitive producer of agricultural products”, making clear the “potential for the deal to result in lower output for some agricultural sectors [in the UK] as a result”.
It goes on to warn that the sector is expected “to contract” as a result of increased competition as tariffs are lifted on Australian imports to the UK, compared to if the deal had not been struck.
It comes after then-trade secretary Liz Truss won a Cabinet row with George Eustice over the deal in spring, with the Environment Secretary reportedly concerned about the damage cheap Ausralian lamb and beef imports could do to domestic farmers.
Manufacturing sectors, in particular the manufacture of motor vehicles and the manufacfture of machinery and equipment will benefit from the deal, the impact assessment published alongside the final trade deal on Friday showed.
The Liberal Democrats warned farmers were being “sold down the river” by the Conservatives as a result of the deal.
It came after Boris Johnson’s party suffered a humiliating by-election defeat to the Lib Dems in the largely rural seat of North Shropshire.
Lib Dem environment spokesman Tim Farron said: “This impact assessment proves what so many feared.
“Buried in the small print is a £100m hit to our farming and fishing sectors that will hit rural communities hardest.
“Boris Johnson has sold farmers down the river to make a quick buck in a misguided trade deal with Australia.
“Now the reality of what’s on the table is clear, it’s vital that Parliament is given a vote on the deal.
“Last week’s political earthquake in North Shropshire shows that Boris Johnson’s Conservatives can’t afford to take farmers for granted any longer.”
The Department for Intenraitonal Trade said it had secured safeguards to protect the most sensitive farmers, including tariffs on imports above a certain quota in the first decade of the deal.
From years 11 to 15, 20 per cent tariffs will apply on beef and sheepmeat above a certain quota level.
And a general safeguard will provide a safety net for industries that face “serious injury” from increased imports.
A DIT spokesman said: “The deal is expected to increase trade with Australia by 53 per cent, boost the economy by £2.3bn and add £900m to household wages each year in the long-run. It will also play an important role in levelling up the UK, delivering benefits for towns, cities and rural areas throughout the country.
“Maintaining our high standards is a red line in all our trade negotiations. That is why this deal contains safeguards to support the most sensitive parts of the UK farming community, including a gradual removal of tariffs over 10 years and a safety net that allows tariffs or restrictions to be reimposed if the industry faces serious harm.”