Australia says it has concluded a free trade deal with Britain
Britain and Australia have reached a free trade agreement which will be released later Tuesday, Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan said.
The deal is the first for Britain since leaving the European Union.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison reached agreement on the deal during negotiations in London, Tehan said.
“The two prime ministers held a positive meeting in London overnight and resolved outstanding issues regarding the FTA,” Tehan said in a statement, referring to the free trade agreement.
“Their deal is a victory for jobs, business, free trade and highlights what two liberal democracies can achieve by working together,” Tehan added.
The two prime ministers would make an official announcement Tuesday morning in London and release further information, he said.
Britain is Australia’s fifth-largest trading partner with two-way goods and services valued at A $ 36.6 billion ($ 28.2 billion) per year. Tehan later told parliament that those numbers could be improved under the new deal.
He cited Australian beef and lamb exports, which under previous agreements were limited by import quotas and currently only account for 4.3% of UK consumption.
“British consumers are failing to choose high quality, well-priced Australian products,” Tehan said.
“Plus, they fail to eat the best lamb chops, the best steak in the world and wash it down with the best glass of Australian wine you can imagine,” he added.
Tehan also told Parliament that when Britain joined the European Common Market in 1973, “Australia felt that a special bond was being severed.”
“Half a century later Australia is again ready to be a voluntary partner with the UK,” Tehan said.
Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud described the deal as an “agreement in principle”.
“Details are being excluded from the agreement in principle our two prime ministers were able to reach last night over dinner,” Littleproud said.
“Our departments and the Commerce Department are working feverishly to ensure that an announcement can be made on time tonight so Australians can see exactly what’s in this tentative agreement,” he said. added.
The agreement is Australia’s 15th free trade agreement.