Australia slams UK post-Brexit trade plans
Australia has slammed the UK's plans for post-Brexit trading, over fears it could harm Australia's export industry.
There are currently quotas for goods which come from outside of the EU to which tariffs – essentially a tax on the country exporting – are reduced or not applied. The UK and the EU have agreed to split these quotas post-Brexit, based on where the most goods are consumed.
But Australia thinks this could limit where it sends its goods. The US, New Zealand, Brazil and Canada have also shown sympathy with Australia's argument.
“You have a choice about where you place your quota at the moment,”Australian trade minister Steven Ciobo told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
“Therefore, given that you could put it into the UK or you could put it into continental Europe, why would we accept a proposition that would see a decline in the quota available because of the Brexit decision?”
A spokesperson for the UK’s Department for International Trade said: “As we leave the EU, we will need to update the terms of our World Trade Organisation membership to reflect an independent UK trade policy.
“We want to ensure a smooth transition which minimises the disruption to our trading relationships with other WTO members, and tariff rate quotas are one of the issues that we are discussing with them.”
But the government has been cautioned against simply letting in more low-tariff products from external countries, due to the detrimental impact this could have on UK domestic farmers.
“We must not look at this simply as a matter of economics,” said shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner.
“It’s not simply about: 'Are we going to get cheaper lamb in the UK if we import a lot more from New Zealand?’ The real issue here is what these things do to our wider economy and the landscape of this country.”