Inquiry launched into Australia-UK free trade agreement

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

The EFRA Committee has launched an enquiry into the Australia Free Trade Agreement
The EFRA Committee has launched an enquiry into the Australia Free Trade Agreement

Related tags: Supply chain, Finance

An inquiry into the Australia-UK free trade agreement's (FTA) impact on the food chain has been launched by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee.

The Government has said the arrangement with Australia will 'boost the economy by £2.3bn and add £900m to household wages in the long-run'. It has further described it as a 'gateway' to the UK joining a wider trading arrangement called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The agreement has met with a mixed reception from food industry representatives. Levy body AHDB and trade organisation the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) broadly welcomed the deal, although it cautioned that more time would be needed to examine the detail of the full document. The National Farmers Union was more critical, calling the treaty 'one-sided'​.

This FTA is the first ‘new’ trade deal the UK Government has signed since leaving the EU. It therefore stands in contrast with ‘rolled over’ agreements based on former deals the UK had with different parts of the world when it was an EU member. 

The inquiry, called Australia FTA: Food and Agriculture​ will examine: 

  • the impact the agreement will have on consumers, producers and retailers;  
  • whether the deal will reflect the UK's commitment to high animal welfare and environmental practice; and 
  • the implications of the FTA for future trade deals with other parts of the world. 

More details about the inquiry and the full terms of reference for the committee’s work in this area can be found here​.​  

The Government published the text of its Free Trade Agreement (FTA)​ with Australia on 16 December 2021. This followed the publication of the agreement in principle​ in June 2021. 

The EFRA committee is inviting written evidence to inform its inquiry from experts and stakeholders likely to be affected by the new trading arrangements. Guidance on giving evidence to a select committee of the House of Commons is available here​.

The committee is also challenging Home Office minister Kevin Foster to substantiate comments he made about butchery visas​ as part of its Labour shortages in the food and farming sector​ inquiry. 

Related topics: Brexit, Supply Chain

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