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Emily Thornberry Says Liz Truss Is “Not Up To The Job” Over “Indefensible” Australia Trade Deal

Emily Thornberry Says Liz Truss Is “Not Up To The Job” Over “Indefensible” Australia Trade Deal

Emily Thonberry said Liz Truss was "not up to the job" of negotiating trade deals for the UK (Parliament)

3 min read

The shadow international trade secretary said Liz Truss was “talking nonsense” by claiming that Australian farmers would replace lost trade with EU farmers in the next 15 years.

Speaking in the Commons this morning, Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Emily Thornberry said that Australian farmers would “be in exactly the same position” from year one under the new deal, but “without the requirement to meet EU standards”.

But Truss accused Thornberry of being “persistently negative” about the UK’s trade prospects, suggesting that her Labour counterpart “simply wants to stay in the EU”.

The government claims that UK farmers will be protected under the deal with Australia by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, using tariff rate quotas and other safeguards.

But some farmers have expressed concerns that there will not be enough meaningful safeguards in place to stop them being undercut by cheap imports.

Some banned practices in the UK, such as hormone growth promoters, pesticides, and feed additives, are allowed in Australia. 

“[Liz Truss] said last November: ‘we have no intention of ever striking a deal that doesn’t benefit our farms',” Thornberry told the Commons. 

“And yet, the deal that 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 pay a single penny in tariffs.”

She continued: “It is the equivalent of immediate, unlimited, tariff-free trade which is why, when the secretary of state says Australia 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] has said, and I quote: ‘I don’t think we’ve ever done as well as this’.”

Truss responded, however, that Thornberry was being too negative about the prospects of trade with Australia and other members of the Trans-Pacific partnership.

"I am surprised that she is known as the Shadow Secretary of state for international trade,” she said. 

“She should be known as the Shadow Secretary of state against international trade because there is not a single trade deal that she supports.”

Truss argued that the deal would allow tariff-free access to Australia for British goods such as cars and whisky, as well as give British people access to three-year work visas in the country and provide opportunities for the UK’s digital services industry.

She also dismissed the claim that Australia was going to have the same access to the UK agriculture market that the EU had.

She said: "In year one, the cap on Australian exports in beef, to the UK will be 35,000 tonnes of beef.

"We currently import 230,000 tonnes from the EU so the cap is 15 percent of what we currently import from the EU — that is not the same access that the EU has, it is only 15 percent of the access."

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