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Don’t Believe The Government: The Australia Agreement is a Terrible Deal

In a bid for a much needed Brexit victory, Boris Johnson is pushing the Australian Free Trade Agreement to win public support for the failing Brexit project. The deal will see Australian goods gain tariff- free access to the UK market, and though the Prime Minister was quick to hail the introduction of speciality goods including Tim Tams and Vegemite, there are huge problems under the surface.

In a bid for a much needed Brexit victory, Boris Johnson is pushing the Australian Free Trade Agreement to win public support for the failing Brexit project. The deal will see Australian goods gain tariff- free access to the UK market, and though the Prime Minister was quick to hail the introduction of speciality goods including Tim Tams and Vegemite, there are huge problems under the surface.

“First, there’s the distance. It’s one thing to export goods tariff free across the English Channel, and quite another to send them 9,440 thousand miles. Quite apart from the CO2 emissions, there are added costs and added logistics – all that amounts to a huge headache.” says Author & Journalist Otto English in a new video for Byline TV.

For all the effort and bluster, this trade amounts to a relatively small market. Trade in goods and services between the UK and Australia was valued at £20bn in 2019-20 – A mere fraction of our the exports from our former relationship with the EU which in 2019 were worth as much as £294bn and accounted for 43% of our outward trade. So what will an FTA with Australia bring to the UK economy?

“The government’s own figures show that the deal at best would only increase exports to Australia by 7% and add 0.01% to GDP over the next 15 years.” says Otto, comparing the size of the deal to the effective GDP of Harrods department store in Knightsbridge. “The only people likely to benefit from this deal are Australian farmers.”

For while the rise in UK’s exports to Australia is negligible, the boost in trade the other way could rise by almost 83%. Meaning a big win for Australia with very little benefit to the UK. Australia is the second largest producer of beef and lamb in the world, a lot of which does not follow the same regulation on growth hormones or food additives that our partnership with the EU once ensured.

“Were their farmers to be granted tariff-free access to the UK, they would be able to flood the market with cheap imports that would undercut domestically produced meat.” claims Otto, “and these changes could devastate UK farming … The FTA with Australia is about nothing more than optics, and about tapping into those Brexit yearnings for a world in which Britain headed a great empire and was top dog. None of this makes good economic sense. And none of this benefits the vast majority of the people in Britain.”

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