Interview with David Koch, Channel 7 Sunrise

  • Transcript
Subjects: Australia-UK Free Trade Deal
16 June 2021

David Koch: Australia has struck a historic free trade deal with the UK which will see tariffs dropped on a number of exports - British goods like cars, Scotch whisky, biscuits and ceramics, will be tariff free. And the duty on Aussie-made goods like wine, swimwear and confectionery will be scrapped. But under the in-principle agreement, the tariff on our agricultural exports will be phased out over 15 years. Now, the deal will also see the age for Aussies on working holiday visas extended to 35, and the compulsory farm work for British backpackers wanting to extend their visas here actually dumped.

Trade Minister Dan Tehan was a part of those negotiations. He joins us from Canberra. Minister, where were the major sticking points? This has been dubbed a hard fought deal. Where was the conflict?

Dan Tehan: Look, there was no real conflict, it's always hard fought when you have these negotiations —and can I thank the Australian negotiating team, led by Elisabeth Bowes, our chief negotiator. We have some of the best trade negotiators in the world and we have managed this and, I think, we've got a great outcome for our economy and, in particular, a great outcome for our agricultural producers. Our sugar produces, our rice produces, get immediate access to the UK market, something they normally don't get in free trade agreements, so, this is a great day for Australian farmers.

Koch: Okay. We're short of farming labour at the moment, so the scrapping of this compulsory farm work for backpackers, that is a retrograde step, isn't it?

Tehan: No, another great outcome for our Aussie farmers because what we're doing is that we're going to replace that working holiday maker requirement with a new ag visa, and we're going to expand the realm of that ag visa. So we will get a standalone agriculture, agribusiness visa with the UK which we're going to expand to other nations, which is something our ag sector has been fighting for, and then we will phase out the 88-day requirement in the second year of a working holiday maker—so, another great outcome.

Koch: So, that means that an Australian shearer during the off-season can just easily go and work in the UK and vice versa, does it?

Tehan: Absolutely, and not only that, he'll be able to go and work in the UK, and if he wants an Aussie steak or an Aussie glass of red wine or an Aussie beer he will be able to get them when he's over there doing it. So, this is a real benefit to our agricultural sector, and rights a wrong that was done 50 years ago when the UK turned to the European Union. And our farmers have still always longed for the day when they could right that wrong and they will wake up today and go: the United Kingdom is back. We can have that economic partnership that we had 50 years ago that was so important to us for many, many reasons because the historical ties are so great.

Koch: Will this be- will this be enough to replace what China has- the bans that China has put on our agricultural exports?

Tehan: We are continually looking to diversify our trade the whole time. So when it comes to wine, this provides new opportunities for our winegrowers. New opportunities for our beef producers, new opportunities for our lamb producers, and we are also negotiating with the European Union at the moment. So, this will help diversify our trade portfolio which is so important, so when you get in disputes you know you have got opportunities in other markets—and once again, it is one of the reasons why this agreement is so important.

Koch: Alright. Minister, appreciate your time. Thank you. Tehan: Pleasure Kochie.


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