Britain has signed a state level agreement with South Australia to deepen ties in industries such as space, cyber and green technologies.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss agreed the deal with the premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall, during a four-day visit to Australia.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office announced that benefits include:
- collaboration on future industries
- building on cultural ties
- making the most of trade and investment opportunities stemming from the free trade agreement (FTA) signed in December
Truss said: “Our ambitious new initiative with South Australia will boost export opportunities and unblock barriers for British and Australian businesses. It will support jobs, create opportunities, boost supply chains and drive economic growth.”
As well as the trade deal, the UK joined with the US and Australia last year, in the AUKUS security pact, to provide Australia with nuclear powered submarines.
South Australia is the home of naval shipbuilding, including BAE Hunter class frigates and for AUKUS submarines.
It is also hoped that strengthening ties with Australia will support the UK’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Australia is a founding member.
The Guardian reports that defence secretary Ben Wallace accompanied Truss on the trip to underline the strategic importance of the UK’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region, both in terms of security and growth.
The overarching bilateral deal between the UK and Australia, which could stimulate new trade worth £10.4bn, has not been without controversy.
British farmers have previously complained that the deal opens them up to unfair competition from cheap Australian exports.
Addressing these concerns, the government’s Trade and Agriculture Committee (TAC) has begun calling for submissions to a public consultation on the likely impact of the FTA in relation to areas such as animal welfare and environmental protection.