Welsh Affairs Committee Chair ‘disappointed’ UK Government won’t consider Welsh impact of Australia trade deal
The Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee has said that he is “disappointed” that the UK Government refuses to publish a Wales-specific impact assessment of the deal.
Conservative MP Stephen Crabb and other cross-party MPs had made the recommendation in the House of Commons committee’s report on the impact of the UK-Australia free trade agreement on Wales.
However, the Government rejected the Committee’s recommendation that the Department for International Trade publishes the Wales-specific assessment, stating that “sub-national analysis” is already provided on the UK-wide impact.
Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb said that the Government’s response to their work examining the impact of the UK-Australia deal for Wales was broadly welcome.
“However, while I am pleased to see the UK Government reiterate its commitment that the draft treaty text of FTAs is shared with the UK’s devolved administrations, I am disappointed that our recommendation of a Wales-specific impact assessment has been rejected,” he said.
Farming unions have raised concerns about the deal, which granted Australian farmers zero-tariff and zero-quota access to the UK market.
The Farming Union of Wales said that in the short-term it is unlikely to result in a competitive disadvantage for Wales in the short-term, because Australia has more profitable markets “closer to home”.
It is feared that imports of Australian lamb and beef will land hardest in rural areas such as Welsh hill farms, and impact Welsh speaking heartlands, and FUW Head of Policy Dr Nick Fenwick told the committee hearing that under certain future trading conditions the trade deal as currently drafted could have severe impacts for Welsh farmers.
Nick Fenwick said that “there are no safeguards in place the damage to our farming industry of this and other similar trade deals would be immense and unstoppable”.
The UK Government has said that under the trade deal, further protections will be provided from lamb and beef farmers, such as a general bilateral safeguard mechanism, which offers a safety net for industry should imports threaten their business.