The UK and Australia have “reached consensus on the vast majority of elements of a comprehensive free trade agreement” following two days of talks which ended on Friday (23 April) last week.
Both parties will now enter a “sprint” to iron out remaining issues with a view to reaching a deal by June.
In a joint UK-Australia statement published on gov.uk following last week’s negotiations, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the deal was a win-win for both nations.
“It is a fundamentally liberalising agreement that will support jobs across the country and help us emerge stronger from the pandemic, strengthening ties between two democracies who share a fierce belief in freedom, enterprise and fair play,” she said.
On the BBC’s ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ on Sunday, Truss said the deal will also benefit the UK’s strong financial services sector.
Historically, free trade agreements between nations have include more comprehensive provisions and benefits for goods trade than they have for services.
Not a rollover
The BBC points out that the Australia deal will be one of the first post-Brexit agreements that does not simply rollover trade terms that Britain previously had as a member of the EU.
The deal could add £500m to UK GDP in the long-term.
Onwards to CPTPP
Although the deal will have a relatively modest effect on UK GDP, increasing it by as little as 0.02%, it has wider strategic significance as a springboard for the UK to join the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), according to City AM.
The CPTPP – which also includes Mexico, Japan, Canada, Singapore and Vietnam – accounts for 13% of global GDP.
Truss hopes the Australia deal will help the UK to join the CPTPP within the next 12 months.
Australia will hope to gain increased access to the UK’s agriculture sector as part of the agreement, sources close to the negotiations have said.
Australian chief negotiator, Elisabeth Bowes has been speaking to British food producers “to gather intelligence on pain points for the UK”, according to a report in Politico.