UK trade deal is a new chapter in an old friendship

  • Op ed

We've learnt a lot from the last few years, about the importance of trade diversification, about the importance of supply chains and about making things at home.

That's why our free trade agreement with the United Kingdom, which enters into force today, is so vital. It will help grow our domestic industries and home-grown manufacturing capabilities, delivering benefits to Australian businesses, and creating new well-paying jobs. This new trade agreement will open new export opportunities, promote greater investment into Australia and help diversify our trade relationships.

Australia and the UK are old friends. Our partnership has gone from strength to strength, with AUKUS, our bold commitments to tackle climate change, and of course this trade agreement.

Brits love Australian-made products, and this trade agreement makes it cheaper and easier for Australian businesses to export our home-grown goods to them. From today, over 99 per cent of Australian goods exported to the UK will enter the country tariff-free.

For anyone who has spent time in the UK, Australia's presence is hard to miss. Take for example, Aussie-founded Daisy Green which I visited while in London last December. Serving up flat whites and delicious lamingtons, it's no wonder they've been named TripAdvisor's number one brunch spot in the world. In addition to an extensive list of Australian wines, the new trade agreement will see premium Australian seafood from Austral Fisheries on the menu at all Daisy Green restaurants across London, thanks to the removal of tariffs of up to 20% on seafood.

Australian producers of wine, beef, sheep meat, grains, rice, sugar, and dairy products will all benefit from duty-free quotas or tariff elimination. Manufactured products such as auto parts and electrical equipment, as well as cosmetic products will also receive a boost through duty-free access into the UK market.

There is also good news for Australians who love British products. This trade agreement will cut Australian tariffs on British favourites such as cars, whisky, confectionery, biscuits and cosmetics, bringing down prices and saving Australian households and businesses around $200 million a year.

Trade is more than just the exchange of products and services, it also boosts the exchange of ideas.

Our new trade agreement delivers for Australian creators and artists, including First Nations artists, by ensuring they receive royalties when their original works of art are resold in the UK.

The agreement provides a framework for companies to streamline licensing processes to facilitate the movement of qualified professionals between Australia and the UK in areas like business, finance, and telecommunication services.

We have included measures designed to improve the mobility of skilled workers and young people, in both directions. From 31 January 2024 Australians will be able to apply for working holidays in the UK to the age of 35, up from 30, and stay for a maximum of three years instead of two.

Straight away Australians will benefit from new skilled visa pathways to the UK, providing more direct channels for aspiring young Australians to live and work in London, which has the world's highest concentration of financial and professional services firms, before returning home to apply these skills in Australia.

Correspondingly, the agreement makes it easier for Australian businesses to tap into the UK's expertise and talent in innovative industries.

This agreement builds on a shared past, while looking to the future.

It includes a world-first chapter dedicated to promoting innovation. Our cutting-edge industries and researchers will be able deepen cooperation on emerging and transformative goods and services, including artificial intelligence and other digital technologies.

Market diversification remains a central plank of the Government's trade agenda. Promoting innovation and technology helps to diversify Australia's industrial and manufacturing base, creating more local jobs. It also helps to move Australian products higher up the global value chain.

The Albanese Government continues to pursue a comprehensive trade agenda. Following our first free trade deal with India, Australia is now negotiating to take this deal to the next level, cutting tariffs further and deepening our ties. We are also working hard to conclude negotiations on an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union, as soon as possible.

When trade flows freely, the benefits are felt across virtually all aspects of everyday life. More trade means more well-paying jobs, more national income, more opportunities for business and a lower cost of living. This gold-standard trade agreement reflects the Albanese Government's commitment to building a secure economic future for all Australians.

This opinion piece was first published in The Australian, 31 May 2023.

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