ECONOMY
UK strikes free trade deal with Australia in first major post-Brexit agreement

Boris Johnson has agreed a free trade deal with Australia in the first major post-Brexit trading agreement.

Australia’s Minister for Trade Dan Tehan said discussions between the country’s Prime Minister and Boris Johnson at Downing Street on Monday had resolved all outstanding issues and agreement has now been reached.

“Both prime ministers have held a positive meeting in London overnight and have resolved outstanding issues in relation to the (Free Trade Agreement},” he said in a statement.

The UK government had been keen to strike a free trade deal with Australia by the end of June as it would prove it was capable of forging new economic opportunities post-Brexit.

The deal aims to increase the volume of trade between the UK and Australia above the current £20billion.

But it is set to boost UK GDP by just 0.02% over 15 years, according to Bloomberg.

This will be the first major post-Brexit free trade agreement with a nation that the UK did not have an existing deal with while in the EU.

The deal is also of great importance at it could be a benchmark for terms set with future negotiations with other countries including the US.

Last month it was speculated that there were differences among ministers over the terms of the deal.

Some are thought to have raised concerns that an agreement without a tariff and quota could leave farmers struggling to compete.

The Department for International Trade insisted repeatedly that any trade deals would not “undercut UK farmers or compromise our high standards”.

But last month, farming groups warned that a proposed free trade deal with Australia could endanger livelihoods in the UK.

The groups said they were concerned that UK farmers would be unable to compete with imports from Australia.

They feared the larger farms, and what some claim are lower welfare standards, would result in cheaper and inferior produce.

Concerns include the fact that around 70% of hens in Australia are in battery cages (banned in UK and EU since 2012), crammed into space no bigger than an A4 piece of paper.

Sow stalls were banned in UK in 1999 but in Australia pigs can be kept in stalls for up to six weeks during pregnancy, unable to turn around or move.

In addition Australian farmers use 16 times more antibiotics on poultry than UK, and almost three times as much on pigs.

Downing Street said at the time that Mr Johnson wanted to “maximise” the benefits of trade deals.

Source: Mirror.co.uk

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