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“Significant progress” is said to have been made in discussions between International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan and her Australian counterpart, Dan Tehan, this week. The pair met for face to face talks on Monday and Tuesday to help push the UK-Australia free trade deal over the line.
A trade pact was announced in principle in June, with both sides working since then to finalise a series of technicalities.
Following yesterday’s meeting, Ms Trevelyan said: “Significant progress made today on our UK-Australia free trade deal with Dan Tehan.”
She added: “We want UK businesses to trade freely – boosting our exports and setting new global standards.”
Australia has hailed the deal as a thumping success saying it was the quickest deal it had ever negotiated.
Trade with Australia was worth £13.9billion last year and is set to increase following the implementation of a trade agreement.
British cars, Scotch whisky and confectionery will all receive a boost from the pact, with it being cheaper to export to down under.
Under the agreement, Britons under the age of 35 will be able to travel and work in Australia more freely.
Following the latest discussions, Mr Tehan said “real progress” has been made and he is hopeful of the deal being done by the end of the month.
He wrote on social media: “Finalising the quickest FTA Australia has negotiated during a pandemic requires real commitment from both sides.
“We are almost there.
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“Would make a great Christmas present for both nations.
“Thanks Anne-Marie Trevelyan for two days of real progress.”
The latest developments also increase hopes a deal with New Zealand is close to completion.
Last week, Ms Trevelyan told a committee of MPs the two deals would likely be signed around the same time.
She said: “We’re just in the final throes.”
A pact in principle with New Zealand was secured in October.
Ms Trevelyan said: “With Australia, we are further along on the process to the final completion of the legal text.
“But because with Australia we negotiated a broad brush picture first to the AIP (agreement in principle) and then the legal text, whereas we’ve sort of been doing the legal text from earlier on with New Zealand, they’ve sort of landed at the same point.”
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