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Scottish Secretary Alister Jack says UK Government ‘very close’ to Australia trade deal

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack says the UK Government is 'very close' to signing a trade deal with Australia.

The UK’s trade deal with Australia is close to completion, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack has revealed.

It comes after MSPs at Holyrood debated the potential tariff-free trade deal which they claim will set a “damaging precedent” for future deals.

Mr Jack said he has been involved in discussions around the post-Brexit trade deal, which he said are nearing completion.

Speaking to BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, he said: “We’re very close and it’s going to be a very good deal for the UK.

“I think it will also take us into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it’s gateway deal into that, which is a huge, huge opportunity for Scotland’s food and drink industry.”

However, a number of organisations in the sector signed a joint letter expressing concern about the negotiations, claiming they have been rushed and could set a bad precedent.

Mr Jack said the UK Government will not discuss the details of the negotiation in public but said there are “safeguards” built into the trade deal.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack claims the UK will not take in hormone-induced beef as a result of any trade deal.

He added: “We won’t be taking chlorinated chicken in any trade deal we do, that’s illegal in the UK.

“We won’t be taking hormone-induced beef, that’s illegal.

“We will have safeguards built in around the amount of product coming so we won’t see the market swamped or dramatic price reductions.”

The Scottish Secretary denied the deal would set a precedent for others such as the US.

He said: “We’re very clear it’s not a precedent and trade deals around the world are done on a bespoke basis.”

‘Devastating impact’

The SNP’s Jim Fairlie, MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-shire, who is a farmer, led a debate about the proposed trade deal at Holyrood earlier this week.

He said a tariff-free deal could have a “devastating impact” on the industry and could put some farmers out of business.

Earlier this week, Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon wrote to UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss to seek an urgent meeting on the deal.

She said: “In their letter, industry representatives have raised concerns at the lack of consultation and have asked that you publish an assessment of the cumulative impact of FTAs with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

“The Scottish Government would echo their ask.

“It is also clear that industry representatives share the same concerns that I raised in my earlier correspondence on animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards.”

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