Trade Agreements

Dear Constituent,

Thank you for contacting me on trade agreements.

The new Australia Free Trade Agreement will create new export opportunities for British farmers to export to these high growth markets. The Government is committed to supporting the sector to capture the full benefits of the market access secured through our international trade agreements and to help UK agri-food reach new markets. I am aware that the Government is working with partners like the NFU, the AHDB and the Food and Drink Federation to deliver tailored support on the ground for UK farmers and food producers through our Open Doors programme. Further support will be announced alongside the forthcoming Trade and Agriculture Commission report response.

The Government is also facilitating agricultural productivity improvements through a domestic reform programme in England, putting forward an ambitious package of measures that will focus on enabling investment, supporting innovation, facilitating structural changes, and increasing capability and skills. This includes a package of reforms to agricultural tenancy policy and the legislative framework which will give tenants more flexibility to adapt their business to change as we bring in a new domestic agriculture policy. 

The Government is also improving transparency in the supply chain to help food producers strengthen their position at the farm gate and seek a fairer return from the marketplace. Further information is available in the Government’s agricultural transition plan document at:….

Defra appreciate there is a concern about the impact of tariff liberalisation on UK farmers. Tariff liberalisation by the UK will be phased in over a number of years – in the case of beef and lamb, over a decade with a further five years of safeguards. This is intended to allow farmers time to adjust to new market conditions and the UK’s replacement to the EU Common Agricultural Policy.

These safeguards include a general bilateral safeguard mechanism which will provide a safety net for industry if they face serious injury from increased imports as a direct consequence of the FTA. This applies to all products. Additionally, global safeguard measures can be applied if there is serious injury or threat thereof, from an unforeseen surge of imports on any product, from any trading partner.

There are strong ‘Buy British’ trends in the UK and strong support for British farmers – 81 per cent of beef sold in the UK is under the British logo, with Aldi, Budgens, the Co-op, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons and Waitrose all using 100 per cent British beef.

We import 230,000 tonnes of beef annually tariff free from the EU right now – this deal with Australia builds to a maximum volume of under half of that over the next decade and creates the opportunity for Australia to compete with the EU. The UK is just one of a number of possible export markets for Australia, many of which are closer and offer higher returns.

Country of Origin labelling is compulsory for prepacked beef, veal, lamb, mutton, pork, goat and poultry meat and most fruit and vegetables. It is also mandatory to say on the label where the origin of a food’s primary ingredient is different to that stated for the food itself, for example if a pork pie is labelled as ‘British’ having been made in the UK, but with pork from other countries. This means consumers can always see if they are buying UK-reared or imported meat for these types of products and have confidence in provenance and quality of the food they buy.

I hope this information is helpful and thank you again for taking the time to write to me.

Yours sincerely,

Mel Stride MP
MP for Central Devon