“Full liberalisation, will surely expose the UK to sudden competitors in sectors to which it isn’t at the moment,” he mentioned.
Labour MP Chris Leslie requested the minister: “You perceive the fear that individuals have about unilateral tariff discount by way of undercutting – low-cost imports flooding in?
“If the British market is flooded with out of the blue low-cost competitors from China, Brazil, wherever, it places their jobs in danger does not it?”
Fox mentioned that whereas he wouldn’t personally advocate slashing tariffs to zero due to these causes, he couldn’t rule it out, “as a result of it isn’t my unilateral determination … that is a collective determination that will be taken by the federal government.
“I am very effectively conscious of the affect zero tariffs would have on our agriculture sector.”
David Exwood, from West Sussex, a beef farmer of 30 years, mentioned it was unthinkable that the federal government would ponder wreaking the chaos zero tariffs would trigger on British farmers.
“We’ve got among the many highest beef costs on this planet, so it’ll be a really enticing market to any beef exporter … they usually’re all going to be simply clamouring to get beef in right here, so in fact we might be anxious, and it’s totally laborious to see how there would not be chaos within the beef market,” he mentioned.
Exwood mentioned no nation on this planet would function on zero tariffs whereas additionally going through export tariffs. “It is a double whammy,” he mentioned.
He mentioned he was anxious about his enterprise given the stalemate within the Commons and between the EU and Britain over the form of the withdrawal settlement, simply 50 days from Brexit day.
“We do not know what our buying and selling setting will likely be in only a few brief weeks,” he mentioned.
Invoice Esterson, shadow minister for enterprise and worldwide commerce, warned Australian farmers towards considering zero tariffs would work of their favour.
“This is able to not be the excellent news for the Australian beef farmers it would first seem,” he mentioned.
“All it will obtain could be the destruction of the UK’s residence market and imply job losses – which might imply fewer customers who might afford Australian beef, irrespective of how low-cost.”
Steve Woolcock, affiliate professor on the London College of Economics, mentioned if zero tariffs meant waving by way of all imports on the border to forestall port seizures, that would end in reducing Britain’s meals requirements.
“There would then be a hazard that the prevailing meals security requirements which can be utilized within the UK, that are the present EU requirements, might then be jeopardised or undermined,” he mentioned.
“In the long term, that is actually a query of UK home insurance policies. We nonetheless do not know what UK home commerce coverage will appear like. Wouldn’t it be extra liberal and subsequently keen to see extra imports, notably of agricultural merchandise, coming in?
“Nicely then that will clearly have an effect on the British agricultural sector, notably beef, lamb, some delicate sectors.”
Earlier than Britain joined the Widespread Promote it was traditionally one in every of Australia’s largest export locations for purple meat. In 1959, 60 per cent of Australia’s beef exports went to Britain.
However Australian Purple Meat Trade informed a 2017 parliamentary inquiry that “a disproportionately low European Union tariff-rate-quota import regime involving high-above-quota tariffs has constrained the power for Australian exporters to reply to ongoing client demand for high-quality purple meat within the UK and compete equitably with different suppliers.”
Within the 1950s, 80 per cent of Australia’s exports to Britain comprised wool and beef earlier than Britain joined the Widespread Market. However over the previous 10 years, on common simply 2 per cent of Britain’s beef imports have come from Australia, with about 67 per cent from Eire.
Since then, Eire has turn out to be the largest exporter of beef to the UK, with exports price €four.four billion a yr.
Latika Bourke is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, primarily based in London.