News & Analysis

Marmite or Vegemite? Range Rover or Toyota Camry? Your choice, mate!

Andrew Saks, Wednesday, 16 June 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a bit like Marmite. People either love or hate him.

Today, however, Mr Johnson has been in receipt of the Australian rival for Marmite, handed to him in a right-on, media-sensationalized exchange of bottom of the range junk food which followed yesterday's equally puerile elbow-bump which no dignified head of state would have been seen performing in the days when leaders had integrity and behaved in a mature and rational manner.

Those familiar with the Australian participant in the 'Marmite wars' which is sold in the Antipodes under its brand 'Vegemite' will have noticed the yellow label with the diamond-shaped logo on the front of the bottle in today's photographs, however the word Vegemite had been substituted with the word 'Boris' in this rather naff gift from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

In exchange for the personalized bottle of Vegemite, Mr Johnson gave Mr Morrison a packet of Penguin biscuits, that paragon of 1970s schoolboy memories, manufactured by United Biscuits' McVitie’s division in Manchester.

With ear-to-ear grins on their faces, the two premiers used these low-end snacks as a propaganda opportunity in front of tabloid newspapers this morning in celebrating the first from-scratch trade deal that has ever taken place between Australia and Britain, as it has now been fully signed off and is officially in place.

Just don't tell Boris Johnson that the Tim Tam biscuits that Mr Morrison gave him in addition to his personalized Vegemite bottle are effectively an Australian copy of the aforementioned Penguin biscuits, just as Vegemite is a facsimile of Marmite, but with a different texture.

Information released by the Australian government today revealed tariffs on beef imports to the UK will be removed entirely within 10 years, with a duty-free quota starting at 35,000 tonnes and rising to 100,000 tonnes per year in a decade.

Tariffs on lamb will also be eliminated after 10 years under a similar programme. Wider imports of Australian foods including wine and rice will become duty-free immediately.

Also, British workers who travel to Australia on a travel visa and wish to work during their time there will no longer be required to commit to a period of laboring on a farm.

Despite Australia being a huge center for commodity trading, listed derivatives and raw materials trading due to its mining and exploration industry in the minerals sector which is absolutely huge to the extent that selling commodity warrants is an enormous part of the financial markets industry in Australia, the main area being focused on by the tabloid press today is farming.

Yes, Australia has a very highly developed agricultural sector, but let's be fair, it is expensive to produce, as the cost of living in Australia reflects, and logistically less viable than importing beef from Europe.

It is being heralded that this new deal will eventually grant Australian farmers unfettered access to the UK market and their British counterparts believe that could be 'fatal' for many small domestic farms.

That may be so, but it’s a long shot. The most important area of this partnership is financial markets.

Australia's banking system is rock solid and has its roots in the days of the Macquarie era of the 1820s. Its legacy goes hand in hand with the commodities trading and mining industries which has long been a significant primary sector industry and contributor to the Australian economy by providing export income, royalty payments and employment.

Minerals which are tradeable commodities on exchanges in Australia range from Vanadium to Bauxite, and even include Uranium, which is used in Pressurized Water Reactors (PWRs) in nuclear energy production.

The two countries may cover different regions of the globe and until now have had extremely different international partners - China has been Australia's largest trade partner until Australia's woke government accused China of human rights abuses, resulting in the Chinese government pulling the economic dialog from Australia.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds.

Britain's largest trading partner until recently has been the European Union, thus the two previous trade partners - China and Europe - could not be more different in every possible way, but Australia and Britain have tremendous similarities, even down to electing two of the most lockdown-obsessed premiers.

Mr Johnson said the Australia deal will pave the way for the UK to strike further deals with other nations.

"More importantly than perhaps all of that, this is the first freestanding, free trade deal the UK has done since Brexit and it's also therefore a prelude to further deals, and it's the way into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)" said Mr Johnson, however let's see if he opens the economy before he begins gushing about the in-practice functionality of flying people and products freely between two nations that are so far apart, especially given his worrying fixation with the climate agenda.

Perhaps even more amusing is that the British government seem to think that Australia's new trade deal will help send British-built cars to the Antipodes.

Let's put it in the straight and clear prose for which Australians are famous. Nobody in Australia wants a British car.

Range Rovers and Jaguars fall apart, are expensive to repair and are a money pit to their owners. Tata Motors, Jaguar Land Rover's current owner is losing money hand-over-fist due to its Coventry folly, just like Ford Motor Company did when it owned Jaguar and Land Rover, and like the British taxpayer did in the bleak British Leyland days.

Tata Motors shares are down 4.25 points today, which says it all.

Australians drive Toyota Camrys, and that's an end to it.

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