Speaking at Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC’s) annual conference, think-tank ECIPE director of the UK Trade Policy Project David Henig said the deal posed a potential risk to the UK market.
“[The Australia trade deal] is potentially a big issue for our farmers and work needs to start with the UK government now because what if the EU says ‘OK- we’ll give Australia extra lamb quota and what’s the worst that could happen? It will just displace UK lamb’. That’s clearly a worrying factor and a concern for all of us,” he warned.
Little return for the UK
Henig’s comments followed warnings from former UK environment minister George Eustice that, overall, the UK’s southern hemisphere trade dealings gave away too much for far too little in return – including giving Australia or New Zealand full access to the UK market to sell beef and sheep, while Australia banned the import of British beef.
On the role Welsh lamb could play in the UK’s future export strategy, Henig claimed it was key, but the brand needed suitable Government support and appropriate resources to deliver.
“Wales has become a successful exporter of lamb but do we have sufficient resources in place, the government support needed and the working together with industry intensively to maintain and grow? I’m not sure we do,” he added.
‘Go all in’
“We must not do that ‘British thing’ of saying ‘let’s provide a little bit of support and hope that we get the same result’. I’m afraid it doesn’t work in trade; I’ve seen it fail too often. We need to go all in on this and do it soon. We need to make sure that our entire government apparatus is set up for export.”
Henig warned the alternative could be the undermining of domestic production.
“We’ve seen in other countries that certain industries have been allowed to just dwindle away because governments have not been interested in supporting them,” he concluded.