The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance, which represents 14 of the country's largest producers of fruit and vegetables, says that Australia has the opportunity to take advantage of a "first-mover" advantage by entering into a trade agreement with the United Kingdom.
"Anything that can help us be more competitive on a global scale is crucial," said Pink Lady apple grower Bill Montague. "9 percent is a lot, that's the production margins of most people in Australia … So any type of FTA would help us and our competitiveness, and with that, would help us to develop the market. "
The UK market is not easy to break into, said Montague. But it is worth it and could prove lucrative for other exporters. "It’s consistent, profitable and sustainable," he said.
"We send the best fruit we grow to the UK, and that is the only way to play in the international arena, with our high labour cost."
Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, George Brandis, recently told the Sydney Morning Herald that an FTA between Australia and the United Kingdom was "probably less difficult than the other agreements that the UK plans to make, for example with the United States.
"If we are one of the first countries to conclude a trade agreement with the United Kingdom, we will be very well positioned to take advantage of all the opportunities available, ahead of our main competitors," said the group’s managing director, Michael Rogers.
Montague said his company's apples are filling a gap in the UK market that cannot be filled by competitors. "Our fruit goes to Marks and Spencer, it's upscale there and they want the best fruit," he said.
"With Pink Ladys so popular in the UK, they can't afford not to have them on the shelf. So they need them 12 months a year."
Source: Press Association