The ‘landmark’ trade deal could cut the cost of wine, surfboards and make it easier for young Brits to work Down Under (Picture: Getty)
The UK and Australia have signed a ‘landmark’ trade deal which could cut the cost of wine, surfboards and make it easier for young Brits to work Down Under.
The deal, announced by prime ministers Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison in June, has now been finalised at a virtual signing ceremony.
But the deal, which is the first to be negotiated from scratch since Brexit, is not expected to bring much long term economic growth and critics have warned about its impact on British farmers.
Others such as Greenpeace have questioned the deal’s environmental credentials.
The final agreement was signed today and will now be put before Parliament for scrutiny.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, international trade secretary, said: ‘Our UK-Australia trade deal is a landmark moment in the historic and vital relationship between our two commonwealth nations.
‘This agreement is tailored to the UK’s strengths, and delivers for businesses, families, and consumers in every part of the UK – helping us to level up.
‘We will continue to work together in addressing shared challenges in global trade, climate change and technological changes in the years ahead.
Did someone say cheaper Tim Tams? (Picture: Getty Images)
‘Today we demonstrate what the UK can achieve as an agile, independent sovereign trading nation.
‘This is just the start as we get on the front foot and seize the seismic opportunities that await us on the world stage.’
The agreement gives UK firms guaranteed access to bid for an additional £10 billion worth of Australian public sector contracts per year and allows 18-35-year-olds to work and travel in Australia for up to three years at a time, removing previous visa conditions.
Service suppliers including architects, scientists, researchers, lawyers and accountants will have access to visas to work in Australia without being subject to the country’s changing skilled occupation list.
Officials said the deal removes tariffs on all UK exports could make Australian products like Jacob’s Creek and Hardys wines, Tim Tam chocolate biscuits and surfboards cheaper for British consumers.
The deal was signed today and will now be scrutinised by Parliament (Picture: Getty Images Europe)
Ministers also hope it will be a stepping stone to membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc.
The deal is expected to increase trade with Australia by 53% and boost the economy by £2.3 billion, the Department for International Trade said.
Official estimates of the impact of a deal have previously suggested that in the long run, it would produce an increase of between 0.01% and 0.02% of gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the size of the economy.
This is partly because Australia accounts for only around 1.7% of UK exports and 0.7% of imports and because tariffs on most UK-Australia trade are already low.
Shadow international trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Labour supported a free-trade deal with Australia but would scrutinise it very carefully.
‘Notable from the outset is that the Government “list of benefits” contains no mention of climate targets or the impact of the removal of import tariffs on UK agriculture,’ he said.
Liberal Democrat rural affairs spokesman Tim Farron said: ‘This trade deal fails to protect our farmers in the long term.’
Farming leaders have previously raised concerns about the impact of tariff-free imports from Australia hitting UK producers.
While Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven raised environmental concerns.
‘What people will want to know is whether this trade deal will stop beef from farms involved in destroying habitats for koalas and other endangered species from reaching our supermarket shelves,’ he said.
But business groups welcomed the deal and the opportunities for exporters.
Confederation of British Industry president Lord Bilimoria said it ‘opens new frontiers’ and is a ‘truly comprehensive and modern agreement that plays to Britain’s economic strengths and competitiveness’.
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