Meat & Livestock Australia has seized on the opportunity provided by recent political developments in the United Kingdom to push forward the campaign for non-discriminatory market access for Australian beef and lamb.
MLA managing director Richard Norton said Brexit and the UK’s decision to call a snap general election for early June added new urgency to progress Australia’s red meat trade ambitions, given the UK’s new trade policy.
Just back from a series of meetings in London, Mr Norton said MLA had moved quickly to build on its longstanding presence in Europe and bolster the campaign to secure equivalent market access for Australian red meat in the UK.
‘‘There are real opportunities for the Australian red meat industry, providing we can compete with other countries on an equal footing,’’ Mr Norton said.
‘‘A continuation of the current trade arrangement and system of preferential quota allocations is untenable in a post-Brexit world.
‘‘We feel strongly that now is the right time to rebalance the trading disparities Australia has faced in the region for the past 45 years.’’
The UK is currently not self-sufficient in red meat production, importing 250000 tonnes of beef and 90000 tonnes of sheepmeat, however, Australia’s market share represents just six per cent of total red meat imports.
Mr Norton said MLA’s plan for the UK was not about pursuing one market over another, it was simply about proactively meeting the expected new political timeframes due to an early general election and the UK’s ongoing departure from the EU.
‘‘Equally, our industry and government must also maintain a steely focus on negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU,’’ he said.
‘‘These are relationships we want to see prosper and that can only happen when Australia is afforded equal opportunity in what is a very competitive market.’’
Apart from trade access, Mr Norton also highlighted the opportunities and shared benefit for further collaboration between the Australian and UK red meat industries.