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A trade deal between the UK and Australia has been agreed between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his counterpart, Scott Morrison.

Downing Street said the new pact meant British products such as cars, Scotch whisky, biscuits and ceramics would be cheaper to sell to Australia.

However, there has been concern from UK farmers over the deal.

The agreement is the first trade deal to be built from scratch since the UK left the EU.

It is seen as an important step towards the UK joining a wider Asia Pacific free-trade agreement.

As part of the pact, the government says Britons under the age of 35 will be able to travel and work in Australia more freely.

"Today marks a new dawn in the UK's relationship with Australia, underpinned by our shared history and common values," Mr Johnson said in a statement:

"Our new free trade agreement opens fantastic opportunities for British businesses and consumers, as well as young people wanting the chance to work and live on the other side of the world.

"This is global Britain at its best - looking outwards and striking deals that deepen our alliances and help ensure every part of the country builds back better from the pandemic."

Minette Batters standing in front of a tractor in Westminster
image captionNFU president Minette Batters has warned farmers would struggle if the wrong deal is struck
But the newly formed cross-party UK Trade and Business Commission reacted with alarm to the deal, which it says has not been properly seen nor examined by parliament.

It is making a formal request for the full text of the agreement for scrutiny.

"The prime minister has just spent the weekend arguing with our closest allies about a treaty that he pushed through parliament with limited scrutiny," said Labour's Hilary Benn, who chairs the commission.

"This highlights the risks of rushing through deals for short-term political gain while failing to understand the long-term consequences.

"A detailed and objective analysis is needed of how this deal will affect businesses around the country, particularly hard-hit sectors such as farming."

The UK government has signed a long list of trade deals over the past year, but they have been rollovers of those the UK already had as part of the EU.

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The new deal could allow the UK to eventually join a wider Asia Pacific free-trade agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which the government says could provide British farmers with huge opportunities.

However, there have been concerns in the farming community about the UK compromising on its food standards, as well as tensions in government between the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, and the Trade Secretary, Liz Truss.


media caption'We don't have enough beef to flood the UK market'
UK farmers also have concerns there will be no meaningful safeguards in place to stop farmers being undercut by cheap imports.

Farmers in Australia are allowed to use some hormone growth promoters, pesticides, and feed additives that are banned in the UK.

The UK Trade and Business Commission is worried that Australian farming operates on a scale that UK counterparts cannot compete with, saying Australia contains eight of the 10 largest farms in the world, including one which is larger than Israel.

According to the UK's National Farmers Union, Australian farmers are able to produce beef at a lower cost of production, and could undercut farmers in the UK.

Ministers in Scotland have also raised worries about the farming industry being overwhelmed if the market is flooded with lower standard goods.

The government says British farmers will be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, using tariff rate quotas and other safeguards.

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