Tehan tetchy on tariffs, promoting free trade
The Australian government is hopeful of a comprehensive and 'liberalised' New Zealand-style trade deal with the United Kingdom as it finds its new place in world trade separate from the European Union.
As the nations' prime ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson prepare to meet later this week at the G7 meeting, Mr Tehan told FlowNews24 on Tuesday morning that he was optimistic the trade deal would go through:
"We're sprinting towards a finish to try and get an outcome before the two prime ministers meet.
The interview with Minister Tehan appears in the FlowNews24 podcast player below. The article continues further below.
Speaking on the morning of his keynote address in the Barossa Valley for the South Australian leg of the National Farmers Federation's 'Towards 2030' agricultural strategy roadshow, the Minister acknowledged that Britain's Farmers Union had voiced concern around Australian meat entering the UK:
"Always agriculture is one of the difficult areas. We tend to see protectionist forces coming to play around free trade agreements when it comes to agriculture.
"We think we have a very strong case. We used to get about 150,000 tonnes of sheep meat into the UK in 1959, that's obviously reduced to around 10,000 tonnes now."
When asked about the recent decision to include the United Kingdom as a potential member of the new comprehensive trans-Pacific partnership - which would reduce substantially reduce tariffs on a wide range of goods between Asian nations Canada and now the UK - the Minister said:
"If we got a first class gold standard free trade agreement (with the UK), then basically what we would be doing is saying to the UK, 'you have done what is needed as far as Aust is concerned to accede to the CPTPP'.
"We want this (free trade) agreement to be 'CPTPP Plus', and that's what we're looking to achieve. We've made very clear to the UK if their offer on their side isn't good enough, its going to make it very difficult for us to sign up to a free trade agreement with them and make discussions very difficult if they want to join the CPTPP."
The Minister was also dismissive of the growing attraction within the EU and Biden administration in the USA to impose carbon tariffs on nations they did not believe were doing enough to combat climate change:
"Our view is that carbon tariffs are not the way to go. they are protectionist at heart and all they will do is harm trade.
"Our counter proposal is that all countries should look to limit the tariffs that they put on environmental goods and services. That way all countries can get access to the technology and services they need to reduce carbon emissions. We think that is more consistent with a free trade approach."