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UK Government signs "historic" free trade deal with Australia

Jeremy Lim
17 December 2021

The UK Government has today announced the agreement of a "historic" free trade deal with Australia after months of negotiations.

The government described it as the first post-Brexit deal negotiated from scratch and not "rolled over" from trade terms that the UK benefited from while in the EU. 

The deal was 'agreed in principle' by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in June, and negotiators have now finalised the agreement with the final deal signed in a virtual ceremony by International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan. The deal will be laid out in Parliament to be revised and is due to come into force next year.

According to the press statement, the deal is expected to unlock £10.4 billion pounds of additional trade, boosting the economy and increasing wages across the UK, while eliminating tariffs on most UK exports. 

The government added that new agreement will also create new opportunities for businesses in both the UK and Australia, allowing young people to work and travel in Australia for up to three years and UK service suppliers will have access to work visas in the country, without being subject to its skilled occupation list. It will also give UK firms access to bidding for 10 billion pounds worth of Australian public sector contracts per year.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: "Our UK-Australia trade deal is a landmark moment in the historic and vital relationship between our two commonwealth nations. This agreement is tailored to the UK’s strengths, and delivers for businesses, families, and consumers in every part of the UK – helping us to level up. We will continue to work together in addressing shared challenges in global trade, climate change and technological changes in the years ahead.

"Today we demonstrate what the UK can achieve as an agile, independent sovereign trading nation. This is just the start as we get on the front foot and seize the seismic opportunities that await us on the world stage."

The government said the deal was also a gateway into the fast-growing Indo-Pacific region and will boost the UK’s bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the largest free trade areas in the world, covering £8.4 trillion of GDP and 11 Pacific nations from Australia to Mexico.

Nicola Watkinson, TheCityUK Managing Director, International Trade and Investment, said: "This agreement with Australia is further evidence of the UK breaking ground with new trade deals with key trade partners. It is the first wholly new agreement negotiated with an advanced economy, and it furthers the UK objective to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

"The agreement rightly focuses on issues important to the services sectors representing 80% of the UK economy, such as recognition of professional qualifications, data and digital provisions, which all create new opportunities for UK exporters. As the UK’s largest exporter of services, the financial and related professional services industry welcomes this agreement."

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