Today’s meeting builds on the commitment by both governments to strengthen economic links between the UK and Australia, with both Ministers reaffirming their commitment to growing the already strong trading links of goods and services, worth $23.2 billion (£13 billion).
The ministers held productive discussions on the early priorities for the Trade Working Group and parameters of a future ambitious Australia-UK free trade agreement (FTA) once the UK leaves the EU. This comes ahead of a planned visit by the UK Secretary of State for International Trade Dr Liam Fox, to Australia in the first quarter of 2017.
They also explored avenues of cooperation on other trade policy issues of mutual interest, including the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ongoing negotiations on the World Trade Organization and separate processes, and the importance of work to prepare for, and launch, an EU-Australia FTA.
International Trade Minister, Lord Price, said:
The UK and Australia share a strong commitment to global trade liberalisation and we will continue to work with other like-minded partners to be at the forefront of championing the global benefits of open markets and free trade.
Today’s discussions have reaffirmed our commitment to boosting trade relations between our countries and taken forward preparation on joint work to explore a future ambitious trade agreement once the UK has left the EU. I look forward to the Working Group advancing this agenda, and the Secretary of State’s visit next year will be an opportunity to keep up the momentum on this important work.
Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo, said:
The business communities in Australia and the UK share the desire of governments to build a positive and forward looking relationship that maximises the opportunities for expanded trade and investment that will promote growth and jobs.
We have a strong platform to build on. The UK is Australia’s second largest source of total foreign investment, and a major trade partner. At a time when the outlook for global growth is uncertain, it makes sense for us to seize this opportunity to put our future economic relationship on the strongest possible future footing.
The Australia-UK Trade Working Group was established following the meeting between Minister Ciobo and Secretary Fox in London on 6 September.