Aussie red meat sector takes a closer look on Brexit
The Australian red meat industry is taking a closer look at the new quota regimes adopted by the EU and the United Kingdom. On one hand, the immediate outcome of Brexit is not as frictionless, as Australia’s current EU beef and sheepmeat tariff rate quotas have been divided between the EU and UK – further constraining Australia’s small volume access and removing the flexibility of shifting product according to consumer demand between the EU and UK markets. On the other, trade can keep flowing and negotiations with both parts for a Free Trade Agreement are underway.
From 1 January 2021, Australia’s access to the EU and UK markets is as follows:
- Australia’s previous 7,150 tonne EU Hilton beef quota has been split: 3,389 tonnes to the EU and 3,761 tonnes to the UK
- Australia’s 19,186 tonne sheepmeat/goatmeat quota has been split: 5,851 tonnes to the EU and 13,335 tonnes to the UK.
As a consequence, Australian exporters now have to navigate several quota regimes – an unfortunate Brexit outcome. The ultimate ‘fix’ to improving this outcome will be via the two separate but parallel Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) Australia is negotiating with both the EU and UK. These negotiations will be crucial to securing much-improved, long-term preferential access to these high-value markets.
Despite COVID-related disruptions throughout 2020, four rounds of the Australia-EU FTA negotiations were successfully held – one in Canberra and three virtually. Similarly, the Australia-UK FTA negotiations have made progress since being launched virtually in June, followed by three virtual negotiating rounds. With further virtual negotiating rounds for both the Australia-EU FTA and Australia-UK FTA scheduled for the first quarter of 2021, it is encouraging to see the momentum continuing. From an industry perspective, FTA advocacy activities will ramp up in 2021 – led by the EU/UK Red Meat Market Access Taskforce, announced Meat and Livestock Australia.
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