Australia,Britain Reach Free Trade Deal06/15 06:12
LONDON (AP) -- Britain and Australia announced the broad outlines of a free
trade deal Tuesday, eliminating tariffs on a wide range of goods as the U.K.
seeks to expand links around the world following its exit from the European
The pact is expected to boost exports of traditional British products such
as Scotch whisky, while boosting imports of lamb and wine from Australia. The
U.K. also hopes the deal will help it join the trans-Pacific trade partnership,
which would open the door to increased trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
It is the first trade deal Britain has negotiated from scratch since it left
the EU. Earlier deals with countries including Japan and Canada were built on
existing agreements struck by the EU.
Johnson and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, appeared outside
Downing Street on Tuesday in a jovial mood, underlining the benefits each
county would receive in the deal and stressing the long ties between the two
"This is an ambitious free trade agreement,'' Morrison told reporters. "This
is not a standard cookie cutter agreement. This is an agreement with great
ambition for both countries.''
Britain is Australia's fifth largest trading partner with two-way goods and
services valued at 36.6 billion Australian dollars ($28.2 billion) a year.
U.K. farm groups reacted with caution, saying they were waiting to see the
details of the agreement. British meat producers have expressed concerns that
they wouldn't be able to compete with cheap imports from Australia.
Johnson's office defended the deal, saying U.K. farmers would be protected
by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years. The government also said it would
seek to increase agricultural exports to Asia and the Pacific.
"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,''
Johnson said. "But I think it is a good deal and I think it's one that will
benefit British farmers and British consumers as well.''
U.K. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said Australian beef imports would
be a "pretty small" portion of U.K. consumption.
"It's important that we maintain protections and support for farmers, but
it's also the case that opening up trade barriers, bringing them down and
opening up the opportunities, provides our farmers with the chance to show on
the world stage the amazing quality of U.K. produce," Gove told Sky News.