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UK signs 'landmark' free trade agreement with Australia

By Rachel Douglass

17 Dec 2021

Business

Image: Marcin Nowak via Unsplash

The UK has signed a trade agreement with Australia setting new global standards in customs and services and creating new work and travel opportunities for both nations.

Agreed upon by UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Australian prime minister Scott Morrison in June, negotiators have now finalised the agreement with the final deal signed in a virtual ceremony by international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan. The deal is set to be laid out in Parliament to be revised.

“This agreement with Australia is further evidence of the UK breaking ground with new trade deals with key trade partners,” said TheCityUK managing director, international trade and investment, Nicola Watkinson, in a release. “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 CPTPP, one of the largest free trade areas in the world, spans 11 Pacific nations, from Australia to Mexico, and covers 8.4 trillion pounds of gross domestic product (GDP).

Watkinson continued: “The agreement rightly focuses on issues important to the services sectors representing 80 percent of the UK economy, such as recognition of professional qualifications, data and digital provisions, which all create new opportunities for UK exporters.”

Visa benefits, green technology and possibilities for new markets

According to UK GOV, the deal expects to open up 10.4 billion pounds of additional trade, possibly resulting in the boosting of the economy and an increase in wages throughout the UK, next to the elimination of tariffs on exports.

Additional benefits that will stem from the new agreement will allow 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 enable UK firms to access bidding for 10 billion pounds worth of Australian public sector contracts per year.

RenewableUK’s CEO, Dan McGrail, noted on the deal: “This free trade agreement will make it easier for UK and Australian companies to export green technologies and expertise, speeding up the transition of both countries to our net-zero goals. We look forward to seeing even more UK companies out in Australia, ensuring they maximise all the economic benefits we’ve seen flow from our low-cost wind energy and green hydrogen developments.”

The CEO of Make UK, Stephen Phipson, also stood by the deal, noting that British manufacturers will benefit from tariff-free access on goods and improvements in business mobility.

He added: “In the coming months, we look forward to working with the government to look at how the wider benefits of this new and closer relationship can be positioned and communicated with the manufacturing sector to maximise understanding of the opportunities available ahead of the deal coming into force in the future.”

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