A bilateral Trade Working Group has been established to work toward the implementation of a comprehensive Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
In a joint statement Trade Minister Steven Ciobo and Secretary of State for International Trade of the UK Liam Fox said the main aim of the Working Group is to advance an agenda that will ensure the expeditious transition to FTA negotiations when the UK has formally completed its negotiations to exit the EU.
“Both of us want a future FTA to generate new trade and investment opportunities. We will prioritise consultation and outreach to our respective stakeholders to seek their input to the work of the Working Group.”
The announcement of the Working Group follows a meeting between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and British PM Theresa May at the G20 summit earlier this week.
The Working Group will be convened at senior officials' level.
In addition to preparing for bilateral FTA negotiations, its agenda will include other trade policy issues of mutual interest, including WTO processes and current and prospective plurilateral negotiations.
New found sense of energy
The ministers said to gain momentum they would meet twice annually to review progress of the Working Group. The first meeting will be held in Australia early next year.
“That will be preceded by discussions in Australia later this year during the planned visit by Lord Price, CVO, Minister of State for Trade Policy.”
The UK is Australia’s 7th largest trading partner.
“If you look at the total pool of investment from the UK into Australia, and in addition to that from Australia into the UK, it's worth around $850 billion,” Mr Ciobo said.
Mr Ciobo saidthe UK is feeling is a new-found sense of energy following Brexit.
“They are certainly very keen to focus on what they can do to drive a pro-free trade agenda. Australia and the UK both want to be international beacons when it comes to the benefits of free trade.”