Australia-UK Free Trade Deal Sends 'Powerful Signal' to China

Published June 7th, 2021 - 02:05 GMT
Australia is negotiating a free trade deal with UK due to be signed in November
(Shutterstock/File photo)
UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss said it would send a 'powerful signal' to China

A free trade deal between Australia and the UK will send a 'powerful signal' to China and provide a huge boost to exporters in both nations, according to UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss.


Ms Truss believes a deal will show the world that London and Canberra support 'free and fair trade' and slammed Beijing for what she called 'pernicious practices'.

Over the past year China has blocked major Australian exports including barley, wine, coal, seafood, timber and beef and has also been accused of unfairly subsiding failing state-owned companies.

The trade restrictions came after Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic in June last year.

Writing in The Australian, Ms Truss singled out China and said Australia and the UK would work together to promote fair trading around the world. 

'Together, we can stand up for rules-based trade against those who threaten to undermine it with pernicious practices such as unfair subsidies,' she wrote.

Ms Truss, who is in the final stages of negotiating a free trade deal with Trade Minister Dan Tehan, said Australia and the UK have an 'unshakeable bond' due to the countries' shared history. 

'I have great affection for your nation and admire your principled stand as a great pro-trade champion against pernicious practices from the likes of China,' she wrote.

The agreement, which could be agreed in principal this month and signed by November, will allow tariff free trade access to the UK market of 65 million people for Australian exporters. 

Some tariffs are currently as high as 20 per cent, providing a huge barrier to trade.

The agreement will be the UK's first negotiated from scratch since Brexit, which allowed the UK to leave the European Union and control its own trade policy. 

Ms Truss said it would 'right a historical wrong' where the UK joined Europe's common market in 1973 and then traded less with Australia.

'At this critical time, the UK and Australia can send a powerful signal that the best way forward for us all lies in free and fair trade,' she wrote.

'Together, we can demonstrate our readiness to lead the world as great trading nations.'  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit counterpart Boris Johnson in London next week after the G7 summit in Cornwall.

The pair will discuss the free trade deal, which is almost agreed. The sticking point is agriculture for which the UK wants a transition period of several years to protect its farmers from sudden increased competition.

British farmers have expressed concerns about the pending deal, saying they struggle to compete with countries that don't have their high animal welfare and environmental standards.

They claim Australian meat imports do not meet UK benchmarks, and warn the deal will create an uneven playing field.

Mr Tehan has rejected the assertion and said Australia wanted to offer British consumers the option of high-quality goods over other imports. 

In April Ms Truss said that the post-Brexit deal will help UK exports of products such as popular cake brands like Mr Kipling and high tech British-made cars and trains.

The UK also wants to remove tariffs on trains and train parts to gain a larger share of rolling stock sales to run on Australia's 22,400 miles of track. 

'From our world-famous food and drink industry to our car and train manufacturers, we're pushing to slash tariffs on iconic British exports,' Ms Truss said.

'We know that export-led jobs are typically more productive and higher paying, supporting jobs across the country which will help us build back better from the pandemic.

'A gold standard agreement with our allies Australia, which is now in sight, would mark the next generation of trade deals and will deliver big benefits for people and business across the whole of the UK.'

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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