The UK Farming Roundtable, made up of 19 farming bodies from across the United Kingdom, has agreed on five principles that are of crucial importance to UK food and farming. These negotiating principles are:
- Upholding our high standards of production and positioning the UK as a global leader in sustainable farming and in tackling climate change
- Recognising the specific sensitivities of some UK farming sectors, such as beef and sheep, in the current negotiations
- Balancing improved access and lower tariffs for agricultural imports with quotas and other safeguards to avoid irreversible damage to UK farming
- Ensuring any trade deal is genuinely reciprocal and that the benefits properly reflect how valuable UK market access is for foreign exporters
- Acknowledging that these deals will establish precedents that will be reflected in all our trade deals
"If Government does not back British farmers in these negotiations then producers run the risk of being undercut by cheaper imports produced to much lower standards. This would be unacceptable.”
Country Land and Business Association President Mark Bridgeman said:
“A free trade deal with Australia provides many opportunities for the British agri-food sector. British food is produced to some of the highest environmental and animal welfare standards in the world and there is every reason why our friends in Australia would want to buy British.
“Whilst many British consumers might look forward to cheaper Australian goods too, we owe it to them to ensure any food we import under this – or any other - trade deal meets the same high standards as is expected of UK producers.
“Herein lies the risk. If Government does not back British farmers in these negotiations then producers run the risk of being undercut by cheaper imports produced to much lower standards. This would be unacceptable.”
The Department for International Trade has promised to “include protections for the agriculture industry and will not undercut UK farmers or compromise our high standards.”
Some reports suggest that British and Australian negotiators are ‘in the tunnel’ – a term used to describe the final phase of negotiations, suggesting that the deal could be finalised within weeks.