UK-Australia Seal Free Trade Deal: Breakthrough Agreement in Post-Brexit Era

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the garden of 10 Downing Street, after agreeing the broad terms of a free trade deal between the UK and Australia, on June 15, 2021 in London, England. The leaders met as …
Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty

A new free trade deal between the UK and Australia was agreed Tuesday between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his counterpart, Scott Morrison, marking the first agreement to be built from scratch since the UK left the European Union.

Johnson was quick to applaud the terms of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that renew open links between the two countries,  severed in 1973 when the UK joined the then-European Economic Community (EEC). He said:

Today marks a new dawn in the UK’s relationship with Australia, underpinned by our shared history and common values.

Our new free trade agreement opens fantastic opportunities for British businesses and consumers, as well as young people wanting the chance to work and live on the other side of the world.

This is global Britain at its best – looking outwards and striking deals that deepen our alliances and help ensure every part of the country builds back better from the pandemic.

The new deal could allow the UK to eventually join a wider Asia Pacific free-trade agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which the government says could provide British farmers with huge opportunities.

Britain is already Australia’s fifth largest trading partner while Britain is Australia’s second largest investment partner.

UK government figures show the nation exported £5.4 billion worth of services, including £1.4bn of insurance and pension services and £780m of financial services, to Australia in 2020.

Red tape and bureaucracy will be torn down for more than 13,000 small and medium sized businesses across the UK who already export goods to Australia, with quicker export times.

The new FTA means iconic British products like cars, Scotch whisky, biscuits and ceramics will be cheaper to sell into Australia, boosting UK industries that employ 3.5 million people across the country.

The UK-Australia trade relationship was worth £13.9 billion last year and is set to grow under the deal, creating opportunities for businesses and producers in every part of the UK.

British farmers will be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, using tariff rate quotas and other safeguards.

Morrison said it was the most ambitious agreement that Australia had struck since its deal with New Zealand, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

“I said we’d wait for the right deal and I think we’ve got the right deal, Boris,” he said.

Johnson said the deal marked a “new dawn” in the relationship, “underpinned by our shared history and common values.”

In Canberra, Federal Trade Minister Dan Tehan told Federal Parliament when Britain had turned its attention to the EEC decades ago, Australians felt that a special bond was broken, echoing sentiments expressed Monday by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“Half a century on, Australia stands ready again to be a willing partner with the UK,” Tehan said, according to the Herald.

“We want to help the UK achieve their aim of global Britain, like we want them to make sure that they work with us to promote trade liberalisation. To be advocates for free trade right across the globe.”

Final details of the in-principle agreement will be fleshed out before it is passed by parliaments in Canberra and Westminster.

It will likely take effect from mid-next year.

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