“Anything that can help us be more competitive on a world scale is crucial,” Mr Montague said. “9 per cent is a lot, it’s most people’s produce margins in Australia…So any sort of FTA would help us and our competitiveness, and with that would help our ability to grow the market”.
The UK market is not an easy one to crack, Mr Montague said. But it is worth the effort and could prove lucrative for other exporters.
“It’s consistent and profitable and sustainable,” Mr Montague said of the UK market.
“We send out the best fruit that we grow to the UK, and that’s the only way you can play in the international space, with our high cost of labour”.
Australia’s high commissioner in the UK George Brandis recently told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that a FTA between Australia and the UK was “probably less difficult than the other agreements the UK is looking to do, for instance with the United States”.
The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance, which represents 14 of the nation’s largest fruit and vegetable growers, says Australia has a chance to capitalise on a “first mover” advantageby striking a trade deal with the UK.
“If we’re one of the first countries to secure a trade agreement with the UK we we’ll be very well positioned to take advantage of any opportunities available, in front of our key competitors,” says the group’s chief executive Michael Rogers.