Interview with Sabra Lane, ABC Radio National

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Free trade agreements; working visas; Australia's trade relationship with China.
17 December 2021

SABRA LANE: The final details of the free trade deal between Australia and the UK are being revealed today. It's the first deal the UK struck since it left the European Union.

Australian producers will get more access to the British market and there are changes to the working holiday visa too. Trade Minister Dan Tehan will sign the deal. He joined me from Adelaide earlier.

Dan Tehan and welcome to AM. Australian beef and sheep producers have been waiting on these details. What are they?

DAN TEHAN: So what we will be seeing is immediate access for Australian beef of 35,000 tonnes when the agreement comes into force. For sheep meat, it's 25,000 tonnes. For beef that grows to 110,000 tonnes before we go to free trade and for sheep meat it grows to 75,000 tonnes and then we go to free trade. So great win for our beef and sheep meat producers. For sugar, tariff-free quota of 80,000 tonnes when we go to entry into force and that expands to 220,000 tonnes. Also access for our dairy producers.

SABRA LANE: For Australians who want to work in the UK, what have you achieved?

DAN TEHAN: So for young Australians, up to the age of 35, they will now be able to work for three years in the UK. And there's also agreements of what we can do to free up the movement of people who work in the professions. And there's a commitment from both sides to make sure when it comes to legal services, when it comes to health services, accounting services, that we will work to move up the free movement of people in those areas as well.

SABRA LANE: This is the first deal for the UK since Brexit. What weren't you able to include in this agreement that you're going to continue to negotiate for?

DAN TEHAN: Well, the great thing about this agreement is that is a true free trade agreement. It covers all areas, it sees the, on entry into force, the elimination of all tariffs on 99 per cent of goods between the UK and Australia. So there isn't a lot left. What we've got to make sure is those behind the border issues don't get in the way of what is a truly historic free trade agreement.

SABRA LANE: Well, this is pretty good news for producers. Some will be wondering, what about China? When was the last time you spoke with your counterparts there? And do you hold out any hope that Australia will be taken out of the deep freeze soon?

DAN TEHAN: Well, one of the small steps was taken earlier this week when Australian business and Chinese business through the Australia China Business Council were able to meet and have some discussions around efforts that could be made on climate change and a couple of other issues. So, my hope is that this small step might pave the way for further engagement. Obviously, we're very keen for that constructive engagement. I wrote to my Chinese counterpart at the beginning of this year seeking that constructive engagement, and we're waiting patiently for that response. In the meantime, we're getting on and looking at other opportunities. And that's why Australia UK FTA is so important.

SABRA LANE: Dan Tehan thanks for joining AM.

DAN TEHAN: Pleasure Sabra.

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