Fri, 06 Aug 2021

Australia trade deal seen as British move towards Asian trade

Robert Besser
16 Jun 2021, 19:46 GMT+10

LONDON, England: In the wake of the just concluded G7 summit, Britain and Australia announced a trade deal on Tuesday that will both increase and speed trade between the two countries.

Observers note that the agreement is another step in Britain developing an independent trade policy for the first time in decades following its leaving the European Union.

In announcing the agreement, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as "a new dawn" in British-Australian relations.

The enthusiasm for the trade agreement with Australia reflects the British government seeing the deal as an important move in shifting the country's economic center away from Europe and towards the higher-growth eastern nations.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Johnson completed the agreement while the Group of Seven was meeting in Britain over the weekend. Australia's Morrison attended the summit as a guest.

"Today marks a new dawn in the UK's relationship with Australia, underpinned by our shared history and common values," Johnson said in a statement.

Britain remains Australia's eighth-largest trading partner, while Australia is Britain 20th largest, with trade between the two nations valued at $20.7 billion.

"It is a fundamentally liberalizing agreement that removes tariffs on all British goods, opens new opportunities for our services providers and tech firms, and makes it easier for our people to travel and work together," British trade minister Liz Truss said of the agreement, as quoted by Reuters.

The trade agreement will be carefully reviewed by British farmers to ensure it does not eliminate tariffs on lamb and beef imports from Australia.

The British government, however, said the nation's farmers would be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years.

Australian Minister for Trade David Littleproud did not disclose details, but said Australian farmers would benefit from the deal.

"Overall, this is going to be a great win for Australian agriculture," Littleproud told 4BC Radio.

Australia's economy is, however, already focused on Asia.

"This free trade agreement is more about symbolism than immediately tangible material benefits," said Ben Wellings, senior lecturer in politics and international relations at Monash University, according to Reuters.

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