UK And Australia Agree New Free Trade Deal Which Boris Johnson Says Is "Fantastic" For British Business
The government has confirmed it has agreed a new free trade deal with Australia which ministers claim will boost UK GDP by 0.02% over 15 years.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new post-Brexit free trade deal marked a "new dawn" in the relationship between the two countries.
The deal is the first trade deal to be negotiated fully since the UK's exit from the European Union which ministers hope will boost the volume of trade between the two countries above the current £20bn.
The government claimed the deal would provide a boost to British car makers, Scotch whisky producers and ceramics manufacturers who would all be able to sell their products more cheaply to Australia.
It is also claimed British consumers would benefit from cheaper access to Australian products such as wine and swimwear in a move which they claimed could save UK households up to £34m a year.
The deal is also expected to make it easier for young people under the age of 35 to live and work in Australia.
Announcing the deal, Johnson said: "Today marks a new dawn in the UK’s relationship with Australia, underpinned by our shared history and common values.
"Our new free-trade agreement opens fantastic opportunities for British businesses and consumers, as well as young people wanting the chance to work and live on the other side of the world.
He added: "This is global Britain at its best – looking outwards and striking deals that deepen our alliances and help ensure every part of the country builds back better from the pandemic."
The terms of the new deal include a cap on tariff-free imports on Australian agricultural products for 15 years, a move aimed at calming fears from British farmers who warned mass imports of cheaper Australian lamb and beef could leave them struggling to compete.
Ministers said further protections for British agriculture would be included in the final text of the deal which will be published in the coming weeks.But Joe Hudson, partner at accountancy group, MHA, said the deal "pulls the rug out from under UK farmers".
"UK farmers are increasingly being asked to offer protection for the environment, while the government is withdrawing support to them at the same time," he said.
"Unfavourable trade deals – such as this latest one in negotiation with Australia – will only add more pressure to the sector which is working hard to move in one direction while, one might suggest, having the rug pulled out from under it at the same time."
Australian agriculture minister David Littleproud said the deal was a "great win" for his country's agriculture sector.
"Overall, this is going to be a great win for Australian agriculture," he told the BBC's Today programme.
International trade secretary Liz Truss said the deal would create "unheralded opportunities" for the UK economy.
"This deal delivers for Britain and shows what we can achieve as a sovereign trading nation," she said.
"It is a fundamentally liberalising agreement that removes tariffs on all British goods, opens new opportunities for our services providers and tech firms, and makes it easier for our people to travel and work together."
She added: "The agreement paves the way for us to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a £9 trillion free trade area home to some of the biggest consumer markets of the present and future.
"Membership will create unheralded opportunities for our farmers, makers, innovators and investors to do business in the future of engine room of the global economy."
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