I wish to make a statement on the new UK-Australia free trade agreement secured by our Prime Ministers this Tuesday. We have agreed a truly historic deal, which is the first negotiated from scratch by the United Kingdom since leaving the European Union. This gold-standard agreement shows what the UK is capable of as a sovereign trading nation: securing huge benefits such as zero-tariff access to Australia for all British goods and world-leading provisions for digital and services, while making it easier for Brits to live and work in Australia.
The agreement also paves the way for the UK’s accession to the vast market covered by the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership, coupling us with some of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies worth £9 trillion in global gross domestic product. Our Australia deal shows that global Britain is a force for free and fair trade around the world. We believe in 21st-century trade. We do not see it as a zero-sum game like our critics, who doubt we can compete and win in the global marketplace. We want to be nimble, positive and open to new ideas, talent and products, without sacrificing our sovereignty.
We have laid out the core benefits of this deal in the agreement in principle document. It means that £4.3 billion-worth of goods exports will no longer have to pay tariffs to enter the Australian market, from Scotch whisky and Stoke-on-Trent ceramics to the 10,000 cars we currently export from the north of England. Meanwhile, we will enjoy greater choice and top value in Aussie favourites such as wine, swimwear and biscuits. Young Brits under the age of 35 will be able to live and work in Australia for up to three years with no strings attached. Our work and mobility agreement goes beyond what Australia agreed with Japan or the US, making it much easier for Brits to live and work in Australia.
We have agreed strong services and digital chapters that secure the free flow of data and the right for British lawyers and other professionals to work in Australia without needing to requalify. We have secured access to billions of pounds in Government procurement, which would benefit businesses such as Leeds-based Turner and Townsend, which is contracted to expand the Sydney Metro.
This deal promotes high standards, with the first animal welfare chapter in an Australian trade deal, as well as strong provisions on climate change, gender equality and development. On agriculture, it is important that we have a proper transition period. That is why we have agreed 15 years of capped tariff-free imports from Australia, which means that Australian farmers will only have the same access to the UK market as EU farmers in 2036. We should use this time to expand our beef and lamb exports to the CPTPP markets, which are expected to account for a quarter of global meat demand by 2030. I do not buy this defeatist narrative that British agriculture cannot compete. We have a high-quality, high-value product that people want to buy, particularly in the growing middle classes of Asia.
This Australia deal is another key step to joining the trans-Pacific partnership, a market of 500 million people that has high-standards trade, 95% tariff-free access and very strong provisions in digital and services, which are of huge benefit to Britain, the second largest services exporter in the world. It covers the fastest growing parts of the world, where Britain needs to be positioned in the coming decades. While some look to the past and cling to static analysis based on what the world is like today, we are focused on the future and what the world will be like in 2030, 2040 and 2050.
Of course, Parliament will have its full opportunity to scrutinise this agreement. Our processes are in line with those of other parliamentary democracies, such as Canada and New Zealand; the Trade and Agriculture Commission will play a full role, providing expert and independent advice; and the House can rest assured that this deal upholds our world-class standards, from food safety and animal welfare to the environment.
Following the agreement in principle, we will finalise the text of the full FTA agreement, which will then undergo a legal scrub before being presented to Parliament, alongside an economic impact assessment. I look forward to further scrutiny from the Select Committee on International Trade and the Chair of the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
This deal means we have now struck agreements with 68 countries plus the EU, securing trade relations worth £744 billion as of last year. The deal with our great friend and ally Australia is just the start of our new post-Brexit trade agreements. It is fundamentally about what kind of country we want Britain to be. Do we want to be a country that embraces opportunity, looks to the future, and believes its industries can compete and that its produce is just what the world wants? Or do we accept the narrative some peddle that we need to stay hiding behind the same protectionist walls that we had in the EU, because we cannot possibly compete and succeed? To my mind, the answer lies in free trade. Our country has always been at its best when it has been a free-trading nation. This deal is a glimpse into Britain’s future—a future where we are a global hub for digital and services, where our high-quality food and drink and manufactured goods are enjoyed across the world, and where we are open to the best that our friends and allies have to offer. That is what this deal represents, and I commend this statement to the House.
I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of her statement and for publishing the outline agreement at quarter to 1 last night—nothing screams confidence in the deal you have negotiated like slipping it on to your website after midnight. I will not address every element of the deal she has highlighted today. On some, we will have to reserve judgment until we have seen the full treaty text and the economic impact assessment. After all, this was the Secretary of State who agreed a brand new Japan deal that turned out, according to her own figures, to deliver lower benefits for Britain than the one we already had.
However, the one area of this deal on which we can reach a verdict now is the terms agreed on agriculture. In doing so, I am not going to hold the Secretary of State to some impossible ideal; I am simply going to hold her to the past commitments she has made to protect our standards and our farming industry. Let us start with standards. She said last October that she would not sign a trade deal that would allow British farmers to be undercut by cheap imports produced using practices that are allowed in other countries but banned in the UK. She called that an important principle, so let me give her just 10 examples of such practices in Australia: allowing slurry to pollute rivers; using growth-promoting antibiotics; housing hens in barren cages; trimming their beaks with hot blades; mulesing young lambs; keeping pregnant pigs in sow stalls; branding cattle with hot irons; dehorning and spaying them without pain relief; and routinely transporting livestock for 48 hours; and doing that without their having rest, food or water. All those practices are in common use in Australia, but banned in Britain. Yet, under the deal she has signed, the meat from farms that use those practices will come into our country tariff-free, undermining British standards, undercutting British farmers and breaking the promises made to the British people.
So much for protecting our standards, what about protecting our farming industry? The Secretary of State said last November:
“We have no intention of ever striking a deal that doesn’t benefit farmers”.
Yet the deal she has just signed will allow Australia’s farm corporations to export more than 60 times the amount of beef next year as they exported to Britain last year before they face a single penny in tariffs. It is the equivalent of immediate, unlimited tariff-free trade, which is why when the Secretary of State says that Australian farmers will be in the same position as EU farmers after 15 years, she is talking nonsense. They will be in exactly the same position from year one, but without the requirement to meet EU standards. No wonder Australia’s former negotiator at the World Trade Organisation said:
“I don’t think we’ve ever done as well as this. Getting rid of all tariffs and quotas forever is virtually an unprecedented result.”
Of course, he is right. When Japan and Korea negotiated their deals with Australia, they set tariff-free allowances in year one that allowed for a modest increase in the amount of beef Australia had exported to them in the previous year—7% for Korea and 10% for Japan. By comparison, the deal the Secretary of State has just signed allows Australia to increase its exports of beef by 6,000% without paying any tariffs. In the Government’s own scoping paper last July we have it in black and white. That increase in Australian exports will mean:
“A fall in output and employment”
in the UK’s agricultural sector. [Interruption.] The right hon. Lady says it is wrong, but I am just quoting her Department. So British farmers are to be left worse off as a result of her deal. This is another broken promise, with more to come when New Zealand, Canada, Brazil and America demand the same deal for their exports. Let me be absolutely clear. We want good trade deals with other countries. We want trade deals that will create jobs, support our industries, and strengthen our economy and our recovery. But, to be blunt about it, we want the kind of results from our trade deals that Australia has just achieved from us.
The Secretary of State told the newspapers in April that she would sit her inexperienced Australian counterpart in an uncomfortable chair and show him how to play at this level. I am afraid that this deal has exposed the Secretary of State as the one who is not up to the job. Britain needs and deserves better.
We need someone who will keep the promises they make to the public and to Parliament; someone who will promote British standards around the world, not allow them to be undermined; someone who will protect our farming and steel industries, not throw them to the wolves; someone who will get the results for their country that the Australian Trade Minister has delivered for his. The Secretary of State has shown that she is not that person, so there is only one question that matters today: will she guarantee to give Parliament not just a debate but a binding vote on the deal that she has agreed with Australia so that we can reject the terms she has agreed on farming and send someone else back to the table to get a better deal for our country?
Well, it is not a surprise that the right hon. Lady is relentlessly negative about the opportunities of the Australia deal and the trans-Pacific partnership. I am surprised that she is known as the shadow Secretary of State for International Trade; she should be known as the shadow Secretary of State against international trade, because there is not a single trade deal that she supports.
The right hon. Lady had nothing to say about the tariff-free access for all British goods—from cars to whisky—that we are going to secure under this agreement. She had nothing to say about the benefits for the under-35s of being able to live and work in Australia for three years with no strings attached. She had nothing to say about digital and services, even though the UK is the second largest services exporter in the world. Instead, she talked about agriculture, which is a new interest for her; we have not really heard her say much about it in the past.
Let me be clear: in year one, the cap on Australian beef exports to the UK will be 35,000 tonnes. We currently import 230,000 tonnes from the EU, so the cap is 15% of what we currently import from the EU. That is not the same access that the EU has; it is only 15% of the access. In fact, Australian farmers will only have the same access as the EU in 2036.
The right hon. Lady talks about animal welfare standards. Australia has been rated five out of five in international ratings on animal welfare standards. In many cases, those animal welfare standards are higher than they are in the EU, but not once did the right hon. Lady complain about the zero-tariff, zero-quota deal from the EU. Not once has she talked about animal welfare standards in the EU, apart from claiming that she likes Danish pork. The reality is that the right hon. Lady simply wants to stay in the EU. She does not want to look at future opportunities, she is not interested in where Britain can go in the future, and she is not interested in expanding Britain’s trade and delivering more jobs in this country.
I certainly do not intend to criticise my right hon. Friend—who has clearly put a lot of work into this—without even beginning to know the details of the deal that has been struck. It is clearly the case that we need to strike agreements not only with Australia but with the trans-Pacific partnership, Canada, the United States and South America.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spent part of the G7 weekend firefighting the fall-out from a badly negotiated deal over the Northern Ireland protocol, which demonstrates why parliamentary scrutiny is necessary. I am pleased to hear that my right hon. Friend the International Trade Secretary has said that this deal will be the subject of a parliamentary debate. I assume—perhaps she can confirm this—that that means that there will also be a vote. When will the Trade and Agriculture Commission be fully functioning and up and running, and when will the impact assessments in relation to this deal be published?
I can tell my right hon. Friend that we have already put out expressions of interest for serving on the Trade and Agriculture Commission. That will be in place before we need to scrutinise the agreement. The scrutiny of the agreement will take place when we have reached the final signed agreement. That will be presented to Parliament. In advance of that presentation, it will be given to the International Trade Committee and to the Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee for scrutiny. It will then go to Parliament and go through the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act process, during which MPs are able to block the deal if they do not support it. I believe the deal I have negotiated is positive for the United Kingdom and will command parliamentary support, but there is always that option open to Members of Parliament.
I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of her statement.
For all the bluster, the Secretary of State knows that any deal with Australia cannot even make a dent in the shortfall created by the trading disaster of leaving the EU. The simple fact is that we are doing much less trade now than we were before 1 January. This deal will take 15 years to deliver one 200th of the benefits lost from EU membership—and that loss has already cost Scotland’s economy around £4 billion and is projected to cost every person £1,600 in red tape and barriers to trade.
The Secretary of State talks of whisky exports to Australia, while ignoring the fact that the Brexit costs of goods for distilleries have shot up by around 20%, and that is in addition to lost trade. This deal cannot come close to mitigating those costs or loss of sales. Fourteen of Scotland’s food and drink organisations have written to the Secretary of State to say that they have been ignored by this Government. They are Scotland’s farmers, crofters, producers and manufacturers. They know that they are being dragged underwater by yet another Westminster Government who simply do not care. And for what—swimwear?
In the 1970s, the Tories officially called Scottish fishing expendable, and they repeated that attitude on the way out of the EU. Even the Tories in Scottish constituencies now show the same contempt for Scottish agriculture. They have failed to back any amendments to legislation that would protect UK standards in trade negotiations or even public services.
Can the Secretary of State guarantee that the deal does not include investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms that could give corporations the right to sue Governments over actions that affect their profits, thereby potentially leading to the privatisation of public services such as the NHS or changes to workers’ rights? How will she guarantee that no cut of hormone-injected beef from Australia or food products treated with pesticides and antibiotics will appear on our supermarket shelves? She cannot, can she? Will she simply duck these questions and prove, once again, that the only way to protect Scotland’s business and consumers is through independence?
I was hoping that the SNP spokesman would welcome today’s announcement about the Airbus-Boeing dispute and the fact that we have continued to suspend the tariffs on Scotch whisky in a deal with the US.
I have much more faith than the hon. Gentleman does in Scotland’s beef and lamb industry. It is some of the best beef and lamb in the world. I am excited about the opportunities in the trans-Pacific partnership, which will be eating 25% of the world’s meat by 2030. The hon. Gentleman should be looking forward to those opportunities rather than harking back to the time when we were members of the EU. He needs to look at where the fast-growing markets of the future are; that is where Scotland’s opportunities lie.
I can absolutely confirm that ISDS is not part of our trade agreement with Australia, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that no hormone-injected beef will be allowed into the UK.
G’day, Mr Speaker.
I thank the Secretary of State for this gold-standard trade deal with our long-standing friends and allies. She will know that Teesside has a long history of exporting to Australia—including the Sydney Harbour bridge, which was moved from Dorman Long’s Teesside steel plant. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that this trade deal will mean simpler trade for chemicals, cars and steel; cheaper prices for my constituents; and easier travel to and from Australia?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right: Teesside is absolutely set to benefit from this deal. There will be a removal of tariffs on products such as steel and chemicals—no British product will face tariffs into Australia. The north-east is already incredibly successful in exporting 10,000 cars to Australia every year. The tariff on cars will be removed, allowing even more of our fantastic exports down under.
Tapadh leat, Mr Speaker. Some are saying that Australia has never before had such good luck in a trade negotiation and are wondering how this would have been different had the UK not been at the table. They suspect that Canberra is running out of champagne.
The reality is that in year one of the deal, UK farmers face the arrival from Australia of more quantities of beef, sugar, lamb, cheese and other dairy products than ever arrived in any year from the EU. To make up for the Brexit damage, we would need 245 such deals, which are very risky to farming. There is a feeling of unseemly haste with this deal. Incidentally, the EU would not create such risks for its farmers. With all that in mind, and given the need for scrutiny, will the International Trade Secretary appear before our Select Committee in the next week to 10 days so that we can have a good to and fro and investigate the issues before she signs the deal and Australia has her in handcuffs?
It is interesting that the Chairman of the Select Committee accuses me of haste. It is true that the EU is in the fourth year of its negotiations with Australia, just as it takes a very long time to negotiate any deal with any party. Fundamentally, the EU’s instincts are not to open up its markets. That has cost British business over the years, because we have not had access to Australian and Pacific markets on the same terms as others.
I assure the hon. Gentleman that I will appear in front of his Committee to answer questions prior to the signing. I am very happy to give him any kind of briefing. As he knows, he will get a copy of the signed trade agreement before anyone else—[Interruption.] I am afraid I cannot understand the hon. Gentleman’s gesticulations, because there is no sound. I think he is very happy that I will appear before the Committee—that is the message I am receiving.
As I have already said to the right hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry), in none of the 15 years of the transition period for beef and lamb access is the amount higher than that we currently import from the EU. It is extraordinary that the Labour party is happy with a zero tariff, zero quota deal with a landmass that is much closer to the UK, but afraid of a country that is 9,000 miles away. It seems to be one rule for its friends in the EU, and another rule for everybody else.
May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on securing this agreement? As she will know, certain farming organisations have expressed concern about this deal. Will she repeat once again that there will be no reduction in the standards of food that will be allowed to be offered for sale on the British market? Further, will she invite those organisations to, rather than express concern, work with and her Department to secure the best possible outcome of the agreement she has achieved?
I thank my right hon. Friend. There are huge opportunities for British products overseas. There is a growing global market for these products. The vast majority of Australian beef and lamb goes to the Asian markets, where prices are higher. The opportunity for Welsh lamb and beef lies in getting better access to those markets so that we too can benefit from those higher prices. I welcome the opportunity to work with the farming industry. I have already talked to the National Farmers Union about how we can work closely together to promote British exports and get more agriculture counsellors into those markets so that we can realise the opportunities of this deal.
The Secretary of State just referred to the fact that Australia is 9,000 miles away compared with the EU markets and the trade we were doing with it. I would be grateful if she could confirm how this deal will help the UK reduce its carbon emissions in international trade. What will this deal do to help the Government achieve their net zero goals by 2030?
I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend on this deal. She has now signed nearly 68 trade deals. Given the shadow Secretary of State’s comments, I would love to know how she thinks that that is not up to the job. While the doubters are still stuck in the past, can my right hon. Friend reconfirm not only that this free trade agreement paves the way to CPTPP membership for the UK, but that membership of the CPTPP would provide untold opportunities for our businesses by opening up access to 11 Pacific markets worth £9 trillion. As a believer in free markets, that is something that we cannot overlook.
We are expecting trade with those 11 countries to grow by 65% by 2030. The deal is a huge opportunity for the United Kingdom. The country has very high standards in areas such as digital and services where we are the second largest exporter in the world. What we have agreed with Australia also covers the market access negotiations for CPTPP, so this is very important stepping stone for those broader opportunities that are in the trans-Pacific partnership .
Investor-state dispute settlement clauses allow multinational corporations to take sovereign Governments to court simply for acting in the best interests of their citizens. They have been used to sue Governments for taking parts of their health services back into public control, and by fossil fuel companies to undermine vital environmental regulations. They make a mockery of the idea that we are taking back control. Will the Minister reassure the House that investor-state dispute settlement clauses will be excluded from the UK-Australia negotiations, and will she guarantee the House that there will be a full debate and meaningful vote for MPs on this and all future agreements?
I disagree with the hon. Gentleman’s characterisation of ISDS. The fact is that those clauses are in trade agreements, and we already have more than 60 ISDS clauses in various investment agreements to protect British businesses from unfair actions by overseas countries, such as the appropriation of property. Furthermore, the UK has never ever lost an ISDS case, because we are a country that follows the rules and implements our laws and regulations in a fair way. In any case, there is not an ISDS clause in the Australia trade deal.
The Snowdonia Cheese Company, which is based in Rhyl but also has footprints in Deeside and Wrexham, is expanding 20% to 30% per annum and is a north Walian success story, combining milk from local farmers with brand Britain to rapidly expand its sales overseas. Australia is a key market for Snowdonia cheese, and, with tariffs lifted, the company stands to do even better. Will my right hon. Friend visit Rhyl to celebrate with the company its enthusiasm for a UK-Australia trade deal?
This deal is great for UK cheese companies. There is currently an 11% tariff on products such as Snowdonia cheese, which will be removed as part of this deal. I would be delighted to visit the company and celebrate its success. This is what we want to see. Currently, only one in five of our food and drink companies exports. There are huge opportunities overseas and we need to see more and follow the lead of the Snowdonia Cheese Company.
There is grave concern across the farming industry not just about this deal, but about the potential precedent that it sets for our future deals with New Zealand, the United States, Brazil and Canada. Will the Secretary of State agree as a matter of urgency to publish an assessment of the amassed impact on our farming communities if deals with all those other countries are agreed on the same basis as that with Australia?
I am very clear that this deal does not set a precedent for other agreements. The reason that we have agreed to this liberalisation is that Australia is liberalising all of its trade with us, including on goods, services, digital and mobility. This is an agreement between two very like-minded partners that share the same high standards and that believe in free trade. Of course, we will be striking different sorts of agreements depending on how much other partners are prepared to open up their markets.
While some in this place hark back to a delightfully rose-tinted past, I am pleased that Government Members are really looking to the future. This is the first major trade deal we have signed since we left the European Union. On that, does my right hon. Friend agree with me that this is a fantastic example of how we can use the opportunities available to us as a sovereign trading nation to deliver for Bishop Auckland residents and for people right across our nation?
This is our first from-scratch negotiated trade deal, and I think we have shown here what we want to do as the United Kingdom. We have gone further than the US or Japan did with Australia in getting the ability for British workers to go to work and live in Australia. We have achieved huge amounts on youth mobility, with under-35s being able to go to Australia for three years with no strings attached, and complete tariff-free access for British goods, with gold standards in areas such as digital services and technologies of the future, including artificial intelligence. I think that benefits my hon. Friend’s constituency, but also the entire United Kingdom.
Antimicrobial resistance is a major global health threat, which led the EU and the UK to ban regular antibiotic use to promote growth in farm animals in 2006. Australia continues to allow antibiotics to be used as growth promoters, without any requirement for farmers even to report multi-resistant bacterial infections. How will the Trade Secretary prevent the import of such antibiotic-fed meat to protect Scotland’s high food standards, our farmers and our future health?
Let me be absolutely clear that we are not lowering our food import standards as a result of this deal. We are absolutely maintaining that, so no hormone-injected beef will be allowed into the United Kingdom. Let me just be clear: all of the questions coming from the Opposition side of the House seem to imply that we need regulatory harmonisation with everybody we trade with. That is the EU model; we have left the EU. We believe that other countries should be in charge of their own rules and regulations, and we should have the sovereignty to set our own rules and regulations. What Opposition Members seem to be arguing for is global regulatory harmonisation.
My constituency of Devizes is home to some of the best farmers in the world, including the current Farmers Weekly beef farmer of the year, James Waight of Enford farm, so I am very positive about the opportunities for more exports of Wiltshire produce, and I congratulate the Secretary of State on concluding this deal. However, I am even more positive about the opportunity for our farmers to have a bigger share of the UK market. We already import three quarters of the food we eat in this country, and to my mind that is too much, so can she reassure me that this deal will not under-cut farmers in Wiltshire with cheap, low-quality imports?
I know my hon. Friend believes in both beef and liberty, and I can assure him that that is exactly what this deal delivers. There are huge opportunities overseas for our beef farmers, and that is what we are seeking to open up, of course. We opened up the US market last year, and we now have beef going from England, Wales and Northern Ireland into the United States. I agree with him: I think there are huge opportunities for our farmers, freed from the common agricultural policy, which has held them back, and with a new pro-animal welfare, pro-environment policy here in the United Kingdom.
Australia, like Canada, is one of our oldest and closest allies, and many of us have family and friends there, so does the Secretary of State share my concern that the anti-trade lobby does not want us to do a trade deal with either of them, nor indeed with the United States and Singapore for that matter? Has she had any indication from the anti-trade lobby about which countries it thinks we can and should do trade deals with?
What a welcome voice from the Opposition Benches! If only the right hon. Gentleman could be promoted to a position on the Front Bench—[Hon. Members: “Make him leader!”] Or even leader; that is a good idea. If that happened, we might see a more sensible, pro-growth, pro-trade policy on the Opposition Benches. It seems to me that the only group the Opposition want us to do a deal with is the EU. In fact, they want us to rejoin the EU. That is the strong message I am getting from the Opposition.
I thank the Secretary of State for her statement and congratulate her and her team on this achievement. The point about free trade, as she said in her statement, is that it is not a zero-sum game; it can be a win-win for us and for Australia, and for exporters such as the ceramics firms in neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent and for consumers such as my constituents in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Can she confirm that, through this deal, Aussie favourites such as wine—including Jacob’s Creek and Hardy’s—swimwear and confectionery will be a much cheaper and that there will be more choice for British consumers, saving more than £34 million in year one?
My hon. Friend is right. The idea that a free trade deal is simply about who wins and who loses is completely wrong. The whole point is that Australia is an old friend of the United Kingdom and we want to trade more with each other. We want to give opportunities for our young people in both countries. We want to give opportunities for our exporters and thus, all of us can become more successful, have more jobs and more growth in every local area, from ceramics to all the other industries, as well as being able to get their hands on those fantastic Australian goods such as swimwear and Tim Tams and, of course, Australian wine, which I have been drinking quite a lot of this week.
The Secretary of State has mentioned climate change in earlier answers, but she has not said what assessment has been made of increased greenhouse gas emissions because of shipping the volumes of Australian beef and lamb that their acting Prime Minister is salivating over. Has that assessment been done, or is it anticipated that the price will be paid and offsetting will come from a reduction in ferry and freight traffic in rural parts, particularly in Scotland, which will pay the price as a consequence of this?
I absolutely refute the hon. Gentleman’s suggestion that Scottish farmers are not going to benefit from this deal. This is a key stepping stone to CPTPP. By 2030, CPTPP countries will be eating 25% of the world’s meat, and I want to make sure they are eating Scottish beef and Scottish lamb. Of course we are absolutely committed to our net zero target. The Australians are committed to a net zero target, and we will make sure those targets are achieved.
I thank my right hon. Friend for engaging with the International Trade Committee, and I look forward to scrutinising the legal text. Welsh beef, Welsh lamb, Welsh dairy, Welsh cheese and Welsh agriproducts are wanted around the world, and my farmers and I are confident that this trade deal and access to CPTPP will benefit them. There are scaremongers bleating on the other side, in an echo of the former Brexit debates, so will my right hon. Friend reassure me and my farmers that they are at the heart of our trade policy, not an afterthought?
Farming is absolutely at the heart of our trade policy. That is why we have worked to get the US market open to British beef. Yesterday we announced that British poultry will now be going into Japan for the first time. There are huge opportunities in these markets, which generally have higher prices than here in the United Kingdom, and that is where the future of global Britain lies. This is about supporting our farmers with their fantastic products, getting them out into world markets and learning from others with ideas and innovation, not closing ourselves off to the future, which is what the Opposition seem to be advocating.
The Secretary of State makes much of the so-called transition period secured for farmers, but information on the Australian Government website suggests that the tariff-rate quota for Australian beef will increase nearly tenfold immediately, and that the deal will see the quota for Australian lamb nearly doubled in the first year. If she is serious about wanting farmers to compete and succeed, why, at the very first attempt, has she conceded to such a drastic and immediate increase in tariff-rate quotas that imperils the future of Welsh agriculture before domestic post-EU agricultural policies are even in place?
The fact is that there is very little Australian beef imported at the moment. What makes much more sense is to compare the amount in year one, 35,000 tonnes, with the amount that we currently import from the EU, which is 230,000 tonnes of beef. I do not remember the hon. Gentleman complaining when we agreed a tariff-free, quota-free deal with the EU, which is exporting far more beef and lamb than under our agreement with Australia. In fact, the likelihood is that, over time, some of those Australian exports will simply replace exports from the EU.
I welcome the prospect of a productive trade agreement with our closest friends in Australia, but it must be right for both partners. As a vet who has worked on farms in the UK and Australia, I very much welcomed confirmation from the Prime Minister yesterday in the House that this deal will be the first ever to incorporate high animal welfare standards. Will my right hon. Friend reassure the farmers and food producers in Cumbria and across the UK that tariff rate quotas and animal welfare clauses will be used in the agreement to safeguard it, and that the Trade and Agriculture Commission will be constituted in time to allow for meaningful parliamentary scrutiny of this deal, so that we get it right for farmers, producers and not least animals in both our countries?
I can confirm to my hon. Friend that there will be an animal welfare chapter in the agreement. We have published the outcomes of that in the AIP document that we have put online today. I can also confirm that there will be a transition period of 15 years, which will give our farmers significant time to work on this and to expand exports into the important CPTPP markets. I recognise my hon. Friend’s expertise in this area and would very much welcome his engagement as we approach the signing process.
It always amazes me how a legion of Ministers come to the Dispatch Box and pretend they are great independent-minded Eurosceptics and always have been. The reality is that most of them toed the line, voted for remain and then did a bit of quick backpedalling afterwards, like the Minister at the Dispatch Box today. While we are on the subject, she said that the deal would be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny. Does that means it will be subject to primary legislation or not?
I thank this outstanding Secretary of State for coming to the House to update us on the free trade agreement. Does she agree that all free trade agreements result in lower consumer prices and great opportunities for exporters, make industry more efficient and allow developing countries to develop? In a way, I agree with the previous questioner: let us have a debate on the Australian free trade agreement, and let those of us on the Government Benches vote in favour of it, and let Opposition Members decide whether they believe in Britain or not.
I fear we already know the answer to whether they believe in Britain or not. This deal will go through the proper parliamentary scrutiny process, through the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 process, as all international treaties do. I concur with my hon. Friend that the idea that Britain’s future should be in closing ourselves off to the rest of the world—in putting up high-tariff barriers, not innovating, not learning and not sharing ideas—is the recipe for penury, not the recipe for success.
My constituency overwhelmingly rejected Brexit, because we knew what it would do to our farming and fishing industry. Is the Secretary of State concerned that the Australian farmers are hailing this as a huge victory, while Scottish farmers see it as a complete betrayal? Will she therefore explain to the hill farming communities in my constituency how flooding the UK market with cheap, factory-farmed, inferior produced meat is the golden opportunity that the Prime Minister promised that this deal would be?
I congratulate my right hon. Friend and all her officials on this excellent deal. Is not the quality of this deal and the speed with which it has been agreed a testament to what can be achieved by high-standards nations when they come together properly as partners and negotiate in good faith? Does she agree that this augurs very well for our accession to CPTPP?
I agree with my hon. Friend. The fact is that the UK is now open to doing liberalising trade deals around the world. We believe that our farmers, our manufacturers and our services companies are able to compete successfully. We also believe that we are better when we are able to share ideas and trade with our friends right across the globe. I can assure him that this is only the start of our free trade agreement programme. We are working on CPTPP accession. We are working on deals with other countries around the world. We are going to make global Britain a success and make the UK a hub for trade in all areas, from food and drink to manufacturing, services and digital.
Can the Secretary of State confirm that her proposed deal will reduce tariffs on meat produced using growth-promoting antibiotics, which UK farmers are banned from using? If so, how is that consistent with the repeated promises that she and other Ministers have made that our farmers will not be undermined by food produced to lower standards than they are required to meet?
I reject the argument that standards in Australia are low. The hon. Gentleman seems to be arguing that we should trade only with countries that have exactly the same regulations and rules as the United Kingdom. That is frankly a ludicrous proposition that would lead to us trading with virtually no one. Let me be clear: we are not reducing our import standards and we are not allowing hormone-injected beef into the United Kingdom.
I join other Members in congratulating my right hon. Friend on this great deal. I also thank her for making the first scratch-built deal with a Commonwealth country, Australia being a key member of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has historically been neglected by this country over the past few decades. Does she agree that now we can do our own free trade deals outside the European Union, we should focus our efforts on the Commonwealth and keep maintaining our great ties with the Commonwealth nations? We have a great deal of history and cultural issues together, and trade will bring us all together even better.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. These are like-minded countries that we have long historical links with. They are our friends and family. I am pleased to say that immediately after this statement I will be meeting the New Zealand Trade Minister to hopefully make further progress on that deal.
Post Brexit, the EU remains our biggest export market by far. I believe that the overarching trade priority must be to address the remaining non-tariff barriers with the EU beyond the trade and co-operation agreement, including around sanitary and phytosanitary rules. Can the Secretary of State assure me that the SPS chapter of this Australia deal, based around equivalence rather than alignment, will not compromise the UK’s options regarding any future EU veterinary agreements? I believe that it will.
The New Zealanders have a veterinary agreement with the EU, but they also have their own independent SPS policy. Let me be clear: we are not dynamically aligning with the EU’s SPS policies. In fact, our agreement in principle makes it very clear that both Australia and the United Kingdom have their own independent SPS regimes.
There cannot be British citizens in the Australian Parliament but there are Australians in this Parliament.
I, for one, commend my right hon. Friend for securing this deal. She will understand that one of its strategic benefits is to set the basis for a global arrangement on standards in services. What progress did she make towards that strategic objective?
My hon. Friend is right. In this deal, we have agreement on the free flow of data, advanced provisions on the mobility of professionals, recognition of qualifications and a whole host of positive arrangements in areas such as investment and procurement. By Australia and the United Kingdom working together to set standards alongside other allies, we can help challenge unfair trade practices across the world and make sure that we stand up for good, rules-based trade in areas where the UK leads.
While I welcome the deal as a signal of things to come when we are unfettered from Europe as an entire nation, not just three out of four regions, I still have grave concerns for our quality lamb and beef sectors, particularly those in Northern Ireland, which are so renowned for quality and high standards and which depend on exports across the world. Last week the Secretary of State, in reply to another question, referred to the contract secured by Foyle Food Group. While it is good news that one person has done that, there has to be more. Will the Secretary of State give assurances over standards, such as the use of antibiotics, which may be notably higher in meat from other countries? Our standards in Northern Ireland are some of the best in the world. We need to retain them.
Northern Ireland is a very successful exporter of agricultural products, and we want to make sure that there are more opportunities not only in the US market, which is now exported to by Foyle Food Group, but right across the world, including through the CPTPP.
I congratulate the Secretary of State on this significant achievement. She has also set an important precedent: as this deal was done from scratch, it potentially sets the basis for all our future trade agreements. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we must include in this agreement something missing from other international free trade agreements around the world—we must establish and maintain a fair and level playing field for UK businesses employing UK people, particularly in the food and farming sector?
I am pleased that our agreement with Australia will contain a strong labour chapter, and also a small and medium-sized enterprise chapter that will cut red tape on our fantastic SMEs that want to export around the world, cutting their paperwork so that they can get more of their fantastic goods, including, of course, food and drink companies.