Australia trade deal a 'practice run' for UK says expert
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison were said to have agreed the pact over dinner in Downing Street on Monday. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan, who held talks in London earlier this year with International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, calling the pact a “win for jobs, businesses, free trade and highlights what two liberal democracies can achieve while working together”. But former Conservative adviser Poppy Trowbridge has indicted this deal is only the beginning for post-Brexit Britain.
Speaking on BBC Politics Live, Ms Trowbridge said: “Is it too cynical to say this is really just a practice run?
“Let’s hope it leads to better practice down the road.
“It is an important exercise to go through and to get right even if the numbers don’t wow any of us.
“This is the new way of operating post-Brexit.”
It comes as Mr Johnson has insisted British farmers will benefit from the free trade deal.
The Prime Minister said it was “good news” for services and manufacturers in the UK, with British products such as cars, Scotch whisky and confectionary set to be cheaper to sell to Australia because of the tariff-free agreement.
Industry leaders have also spoken out over possible compromises on food standards, as the UK has a ban on producing and importing hormone-treated beef, which is permitted in Australia.
Following the concerns from the farming sector, Downing Street said there will be a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, with other “safeguards” expected to be brought in to protect British farmers.
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Mr Johnson said the trade agreement will adhere to the “strongest possible” animal welfare standards, while Mr Morrison insisted that Australian standards were “very high”.
But the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has called for more information on provisions for animal welfare following the announcement, as it also urged assurances on whether the safeguards for famers are sufficient.
Elsewhere in the agreement, Downing Street said Britons under the age of 35 will be able to travel and work in Australia more freely – suggesting the farm work requirement on working holiday visas could be scrapped.
However, further details of the free trade deal have so far been sparse, with the announcement by Downing Street lacking specifics on when the agreement comes into force and what other sectors are set to benefit.
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The two leaders were said to have agreed the pact over dinner in Downing Street on Monday evening, with a final agreement in principle set to be published in the coming days.
Speaking at Downing Street following the announcement, the Prime Minister told reporters: “Now, thanks to this deal, we hope there will be even more trade between the UK and Australia.
“The idea is that we will be able to do even more because we are taking tariffs off, so for Northern Ireland, Northern Irish machine tools, this will be good news.
“It will be good news for British car manufacturers, it will be good news for British services, for British financial services and it will be good news for the agricultural sector on both sides.
“Here, we had to negotiate very hard and I want everybody to understand that this is a sensitive sector for both sides and we’ve got a deal that runs over 15 years and contains the strongest possible provisions for animal welfare.
“But I think it is a good deal and I think it’s one that will benefit British farmers and British consumers as well. It will also make it easier for British people, for young people to go and work in Australia.”
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