UKFTA Takes Effect

Australia has today formalised a Free Trade Agreement with UK to abolish taxes on 99% of Australian exports worth $10bn and UK imports worth $200m.

The FTA was signed virtually by the Australian trade minister, Dan Tehan, and UK high commissioner Vicki Treadell on Friday 17 December 2021. The in-principle deal between the two nations was unveiled as we reported back in June this year, following months of negotiations.

The agreement will give Australian agricultural exporters better access to the UK market and help the Australian wine industry, with more than $40m of tariffs removed for bottles entering the UK.

About $725m worth of farming products such as beef, sugar and dairy will not have a duty imposed. Tehan says it is the most comprehensive and ambitious deal with the UK outside of New Zealand.

The UK is Australia’s eighth largest two-way trading partner worth almost $27bn in 2018. It is also Australia’s third-largest services trading partner, with Australian service exports valued at $5.5bn and imports totalling $9.2bn in the same year.

Now the two countries have formally agreed to immediate tariff-free quotas on a number of Australian exports, with plans to scrap the taxes entirely in a decade, as well as cutting $200 million worth of costs imposed on imported British cars, whisky, confectionery, biscuits and cosmetics.

This morning the UK’s International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the deal demonstrated “what the UK can achieve as an agile, independent sovereign trading nation”. It is the first new free trade deal struck by the United Kingdom since it left the European Union and has been spruiked by Mr Johnson as evidence that Britain can strike out on its own and open up new markets to soften the economic impact of Brexit.

To secure the deal, Mr Johnson had to stare down some of his own backbenchers and reassure the UK farm lobby, which warned that a flood of Australian agricultural exports could hurt British farmers.

In contrast, Australian farming groups gave full-throated backing to the FTA, saying it would provide farmers with welcome new export opportunities.

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