Jane Imrie

UK and Australia set for ‘rapid and ambitious’ post-Brexit free trade agreement

Today (September 18) the UK and Australia will agree to commence trade negotiations as soon as the UK leaves the EU.

According to a statement from the Department for International Trade this morning, the two countries will commit to talks to agree a free trade agreement after Brexit (October 31).

It is estimated that the UK-Australia trading partnership was worth £16.6bn in the twelve months to March 2019, with around 15,000 UK businesses exporting their goods to the country.

The government anticipates that a free trade agreement could create more opportunities for sectors such as automotive, infrastructure and fintech, as well as supporting SMEs looking to trade internationally who currently face tariffs of up to 5 per cent.

Ahead of a visit meeting senior politicians in Canberra today, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss explained: “It’s great to be in Australia this week as you are one of our highest priorities for a post-Brexit trade deal..

“Now, for the first time in nearly half a century, we are taking back control of our trade policy. I want to see an ambitious trade deal which reduces tariff and non-tariff barriers for UK exporters.

“But we cannot afford to wait. Britain is going to be ready to trade after Brexit. That’s why I’m so pleased that today we are reaffirming our commitment to launch bilateral free trade agreement negotiations as soon as possible.”

David Smith, managing director of spirits company Diaego Australia - owner of the Bundaberg Distilling Company - commented on the news: “Our business in this market is truly one of great partnership and collaboration between the UK and Australia, built on iconic founder brands like Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray, Gordon’s and Cardhu.

“Going back to 1887, Australia was the first international market for Johnnie Walker. But there remain barriers of up to 5 per cent on some spirits and we very much look forward to a UK-Australia free trade agreement.”

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