Last reviewed 23 June 2020

The UK has published its negotiating objectives for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia, with talks expected to begin in the next few weeks.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: “Pivoting towards the Asia-Pacific will diversify our trade, increase the resilience of our supply chains and ensure the UK is less vulnerable to political and economic shocks in certain parts of the world.”

She pointed out that the UK, Australia and New Zealand are already important economic partners. UK businesses traded a significant £21 billion worth of goods and services in total with both countries last year.

Opportunities for UK businesses include additional access for UK services and investment, the removal of tariffs and other barriers to trade, and the chance to shape the future of digital trade.

The planned talks are also seen as a logical step towards UK membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), one of the world’s largest free trade areas accounting for 13% of global GDP in 2018.

Both Australia and New Zealand support the UK joining CPTPP, and trade agreements with them could facilitate the UK’s accession.

The Government has repeated, as it did when recently announcing the opening of trade talks with the United States (see “UK’s future trading relationship with the US”), that the National Health Service (NHS) will not be on the table during trade negotiations.

Welcoming the prospect of talks, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Of the small businesses that export, 38% already do so with Australia while 30% are trading with New Zealand, which highlights the potential to build on these existing strong trading links via trade deals with both countries.”

See https://www.gov.uk/government/news/liz-truss-kick-starts-trade-negotiations-with-australia-and-new-zealand for details of the UK’s negotiating objectives with regard to Australia.