Joint statement by Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade of the UK, and the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment of Australia.
Following the recent statements by Prime Ministers May and Turnbull, we have agreed to establish a bilateral trade working group that will focus on scoping out the parameters of a future ambitious and comprehensive Australia-UK free trade agreement (FTA).
We want the working group 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 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.
To maintain momentum, we have agreed to meet twice annually to review progress in the working group. Our first such meeting will take place in early 2017 in Australia. That will be preceded by discussions in Australia later this year (2016) during the planned visit by Lord Price CVO, Minister of State for Trade Policy.
This initiative reflects a strong political commitment by Australia and the UK to take a leadership role in advocating for global trade liberalisation and reform.