What does Brexit mean for Australian red meat?

01 July 2016

MLA's Europe and Russia International Business Manager, Josh Anderson, explains the potential implications for Australian red meat of the UK's decision to exit the European Union (EU).

What is the current situation?

It is still too early to speculate on what Australia’s long-term red meat access to the UK will look like and for the UK it is still very much a time of uncertainty.

Current trade between Australia and EU (including the UK) will continue as normal in the short-term, for at least two years or more.

Is the UK a good customer for Australian red meat and livestock producers?

The UK accounted, on average, for 64% of all Australian beef and sheepmeat exports to EU annually over the past decade. The overall value of Australian red meat exports to the UK in 2015 was $221.3 million (beef $120.5 million and sheepmeat $100.8 million).

Are there opportunities for Australia as the changes take place?

Australia, as a preferred supplier of high quality red meat to this region, has a long standing affiliation and strong relationship with the UK. The UK imports around 45% of its meat and meat products annually which suggests significant long-term prospects for growth of Australian exports to Britain.

It’s an unprecedented time and while a process exists on paper, no one really knows how the UK’s exit will play out after operating under EU trading regulations for more than 40 years. 

MLA’s role in the months and years ahead will be to draw on strong existing relationships to ensure our industry’s priorities for greater, and indeed, more secure access for our red meat exports are secured with the UK.

Our industry’s efforts towards an Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement will also certainly remain a priority as well as our desire for robust trade reform discussions.

Our industry welcomed the announcement to pursue a closer trade relationship with the EU and we are confident negotiations will still commence as previously planned, in early 2017.

Our industry is eager to evolve its relationship with the EU into something stronger, more secure, less restrictive and mutually beneficial to both parties.

But as I’ve said already, the UK and EU have moved into unchartered territory and we are waiting to see clearer trade positions develop from both markets.

What we do know is that MLA, guided by our EU red meat industry taskforce and Peak Industry Councils, will work collectively with our government, to ensure Australian red meat is positioned favourably as an integral component of any future trade discussions.

In the months and years ahead, MLA will continue to remain in close contact with the Australian Government and industry groups in the UK and EU to ensure Australia’s red meat trade interests are maintained and long-term secure access is assured.  

Read more about the EU and Russian markets at: www.mla.com.au/Marketing-beef-and-lamb/International-markets/Europe-Russia and www.mla.com.au/Prices-markets/Trends-analysis/Market-snapshots

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