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UK, New Zealand and Australia flags on flagpoles with sun lit sky behind

The UK government has announced that its first post-Brexit trade deals – with Australia and New Zealand – are expected to go live from midnight on 31 May. UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, is expected to meet with Australian and New Zealand counterparts in London ahead of their attendance at the King’s coronation at the weekend.

The trade deals are touted as the first negotiated from scratch since the UK left the European Union and are expected to boost bilateral trade with Australia by 53% and New Zealand by 59% over the long term.

Both deals will remove tariffs on all UK goods exports, improve access for services, cut red tape for digital trade, and make it easier for UK professionals to live and work in Australia and New Zealand.

Henriette Gjaerde, trade & customs specialist and trade agreements lead at the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) says that the real value in these agreements will be realised once traders start to make the most of the opportunities they present:

“We’re delighted to see that these agreements will come into force at the end of this month. As the first new deals the UK has negotiated for itself post-Brexit, these mark a new era for UK trade. We also recognise that the hard work has to continue from here.

“For the economic benefits to be realised, we need exporters and traders to not only be aware of the opportunities but to start utilising them. This is an area where IOE&IT is happy to play its part encouraging members - and all current and future traders - to get to know the terms and benefits of these treaties and see where they can make the most of the opportunities to trade with businesses and consumers in these markets.”

The announcement of the go-live date for the two bilateral deals comes just a few weeks after the UK finalised its accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free-trade area with total trade worth an estimated £9tn.

Rishi Sunak proclaimed himself delighted that the first “built-from-scratch” trade deals were with “some of our closest allies and greatest friends”, adding that both deals deliver on his priorities to “drive economic growth, boost innovation and increase highly skilled jobs across the UK, ensuring we and our closest friends continue to prosper for generations to come.”

For her part, business and trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, said:

“With these two deals the UK is using our status as an independent trading nation to tailor agreements to our economic strengths. Alongside our conclusion of talks to join CPTPP, the government is forging a bold new future alongside the world’s most dynamic and fast-growing economies.

“Putting these trade deals into action will help create new opportunities for business, boosting wages and helping spur economic growth.”

On a day that PMI data suggests that the service sector is again keeping the UK economy out of recession, there was a further boost in these trade deals, which both aim to make special provisions for the bilateral trade in services.

Provisions in the deals mean that UK professionals will have access to Australian work visas, without being subject to its changing skilled occupation list. British workers will also be able to work more freely in New Zealand through commitments which enable UK service suppliers to deliver contracts.

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has published useful guides on both markets (Exporting guide to Australia and Exporting guide to New Zealand) and IOE&IT recently held helpful webinars with senior DBT staff on how to get the most from both deals. The Australia webinar can be found here and the New Zealand one is here.