I am pleased the UK Government has been able to secure this historic agreement with Australia, which is the first major trade deal that the UK has negotiated since we left the EU. This deal will provide fantastic new opportunities for Scotland’s financial services, drink, manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors, and paves the way for us to secure further agreements, as part of our ambition for the UK to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Further details of the deal will be revealed in due course, but we know that this deal will allow British citizens under the age of 35 to travel and work in Australia more freely, opening up exciting opportunities for young people across Scotland. The deal will also remove all tariffs on UK exports, and will remove red tape and bureaucracy for Scottish businesses that export to Australia, creating the opportunity for Scotland to add to the £321 million of goods exported to Australia by 800 Scottish businesses in 2020.
Australia is the eighth largest market in the world for Scotch whisky exports, worth £113 million last year, meaning this deal will offer a significant boost to distillers across Scotland.
We would not support any deal that does not offer appropriate safeguards for Scottish farmers, which is why I am pleased this deal includes measures to protect the agriculture industry and maintain high standards. Scottish farmers will be protected by a cap of tariff-free imports for 15 years, using tariff rate quotas and other safeguards.
Additionally, Australia has some of the highest welfare standards in the world, scoring five out of five by the World Organisation of Animal Health, and products such as chlorinated chicken or hormone induced beef are banned in the UK and will remain so – these products will not form part of this or any future trade deal.
Under the SNP, Scottish farmers continue to face a lack of clarity over future agricultural policy, with a crucial report by the Farming and Food Production Future Policy Group having been delayed, leaving farmers in the dark about how best to future-proof their businesses. The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly called for the pace to quicken on the development of future agricultural policy – we want to see funding for new entrants, a dedicated Farm Diversification Fund, and much more clarity on the replacement of Agri-Environment Climate Schemes.