The Department for International Trade’s impact assessment of the agreement, published alongside the final text of the trade deal on 17 December 2021, refers to “a reallocation of resources away from agriculture, forestry and fishing” of £94 million. There is also an expected £225 million hit to the semi-processed food sector, such as tinned foods. The report also warns of “adjustment costs for affected sectors, businesses and employees” as well as the loss of jobs.
The impact assessment refers to Australia as a “large, competitive producer of agricultural products”, making clear the “potential for the deal to result in lower output for some agricultural sectors [in the UK] as a result”. It goes on to warn that the sector is “expected…to contract”, compared to if the deal had not been struck.
The Liberal Democrats are demanding that MPs are given a vote on the Australia deal. It comes following the party's shock by-election win in North Shropshire where concerns over the government's new trade deals on local farmers were a major issue.
Mr Carmichael said:
“This impact assessment proves what so many feared: that instead of a well-negotiated, balanced trade deal with Australia, the government has paid for this agreement with a £100 million hit to our farming and fishing sectors. Rural and island communities risk paying the price for the Tory need for superficial wins.
“Boris Johnson has sold farmers and crofters down the river to make a quick buck. We shall have to see if his colleagues will let this slide. It is vital that Parliament is given a vote on the deal so that MPs of all parties can show where they stand on this important issue.
“Last week’s political earthquake in North Shropshire shows that Boris Johnson’s Conservatives can’t afford to take farmers for granted any longer. Sooner or later there will be a price to pay – and we will keep holding them to account for these short-sighted ploys.”