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Australia, UK agree free trade deal with cap on tariff-free imports

Australia and the UK have agreed a largely symbolic trade agreement, despite concerns from British farmers about cheap meat imports flooding the domestic market.
The deal was agreed between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison at Downing Street on Monday.

It will add only 0.02% to UK GDP and little to the already liberalised Australian economy, but is being trumpeted by the British government because it is the first bespoke trade deal since Brexit.

The new deal could allow the UK to eventually join the Asia-Pacific free-trade agreement, known as Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

However, there have been tensions within the British Cabinet about Australian welfare standards in the meat industry.

Trade Secretary Liz Truss, desperate to push through as many deals as possible, has met resistance from fellow right-winger and Environment Secretary George Eustice who wants to protect local farmers.

Australian farmers are allowed to use some hormone growth promoters, pesticides, and feed additives that are banned in the UK. There are also concerns that prices could be undercut.

The UK government said domestic farmers would be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, using tariff rate quotas and other safeguards.

Australian farmers are also looking for new markets after heightened diplomatic tensions between their government and China which has resulted in tariffs and restrictions on goods including Australian beef, rock lobster and coal.

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