BORIS Johnson has agreed a free trade deal with Australia which will slash the price of wine imports and boost sales of British whisky, cars and cakes.
The Prime Minister yesterday said the agreement - the first negotiated from scratch after Brexit - shows ‘global Britain at its best’.
It removes tariffs on £4.3billion of exports to Australia, including Scotch whisky, Mr Kipling cakes and Cadbury’s chocolate, as well as gin, cheese and cars.
Britain will scrap tariffs on wines including Jacob’s Creek and Hardys, amounting to 20p per bottle, as well as Tim Tam biscuits and Vegemite, saving UK households up to £34million a year.
The deal will also open up opportunities for young Britons to travel and work Down Under, with the requirement to do farm work scrapped.
To celebrate, Mr Johnson and Australian premier Scott Morrison posed with a hamper of goods from each other’s country, including a personalised jar of Vegemite bearing the name Boris.
But British farmers have expressed fears that the agreement could undermine animal welfare standards.
Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union, said: ‘While the Government has previously been keen to highlight how our free trade agreements will uphold our high standards of food production, there has always been a question mark over how this can be achieved while opening up our markets to food produced to different standards.
‘We will need to know more about any provisions on animal welfare and the environment to ensure our high standards of production are not undermined by the terms of this deal.’
No 10 said hormone-fed beef will not be allowed to be sold in British supermarkets under the deal and stressed there is an entire chapter on animal welfare in the agreement, which is yet to be published in full. The Prime Minister’s spokesman insisted: ‘We are absolutely not compromising our high animal welfare and food safety standards.’
Ministers also hope to allay concerns that Australian beef and lamb could flood the UK market by capping tariff-free imports for 15 years.
The deal is expected to boost industries that employ 3.5 million workers, and add around £500million to the economy over 15 years - equivalent to 0.02 per cent of GDP.
UK professional qualifications will be recognised in Australia, while there are also expected to be benefits for British tech companies, the services sector and small businesses.
The main elements of the deal were agreed by Mr Johnson and Mr Morrison over dinner in Downing Street on Monday night. Mr Johnson said yesterday: ‘Today marks a new dawn in the UK’s relationship with Australia, underpinned by our shared history and common values.
‘Our new free-trade agreement opens fantastic opportunities for British businesses and consumers, as well as young people wanting the chance to work and live on the other side of the world.
‘This is global Britain at its best - looking outwards and striking deals that deepen our alliances.’
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the agreement ‘paves the way’ for the UK to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade area.
She said this would create ‘unheralded opportunities’ for producers.
But her Labour shadow Emily Thornberry said the precedent set by the deal ‘will send thousands of farmers to the wall, undermine our standards of animal welfare and environmental protection, and threaten the conservation of our countryside’.
MPs will be able to scrutinise the agreement once it is completed later this year, though it will not be voted on in Parliament.