Trade experts call for Secretary of State to grant more time for Australia deal scrutiny

Posted on July 18, 2022
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The Trade Justice Movement has joined fifteen other civil society organisations in calling for Secretary of State Anne-Marie Trevelyan to extend the scrutiny period for the Australia Free Trade Agreement before the 20th July deadline.

Without an extension, the deal will pass through parliament with no debate or vote by MPs on the UK’s first post-Brexit trade deal. In the letter, organisations note that the ongoing leadership debate means that parliamentarians have not had time to focus on this precedent-setting deal. In addition, new information emerged just last week that the trade department had suppressed information about damaging impacts of the deal for UK food and farming.

The Australia deal has particularly worrying implications for important issues like food standards, climate emissions and animal welfare. Australia is a well-known climate laggard with serious issues in relation to the clearance of forest for cattle farming and the influence of mining lobbies which has halted progress on climate policy. The Government’s own Commission acknowledged that it did not have sufficient resources to properly scrutinise the deal and that the deal could lead to unfair competition for farmers and an increase in imports of food grown using pesticides banned in the UK.

The signatories argue that parliamentarians must be allowed time to properly understand the implications for their constituents and pose questions to the Secretary of State.

Read the full letter here


Image: London, United Kingdom. Prime Minister Boris Johnson alongside Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Secretary for International Trade host an Australia Investment Announcement Roundtable in 10 Downing Street. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)