The implementation of the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement

  • Speech, check against delivery

Australian British Chamber of Commerce business lunch, Melbourne

I pay my respects to their Elders past and present.

I acknowledge Consul-General, Mr Stephen Lysaght.

And our fellow panel members:

  • Patrick Hutchinson, CEO of the Australian Meat Industry Council.
  • Tim Nelson, Chief Services Officer of Seer Medical.

In May this year, a gold-standard trade agreement came into force.

I am, of course, referring to our Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom.

The trade deal with the UK is one of the most comprehensive, innovative and ambitious trade agreements concluded by Australia, and has ushered in a new era in our economic relationship.

It is increasing the choice of everyday household items, and driving down cost of living pressures by reducing tariffs that are passed on to consumers both in Australia and in the UK.

More than ninety-nine per cent of Australian goods can now enter the UK duty free.

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.

In the first month the trade deal entered into force, Australia's exports to the UK increased by almost 200 per cent from the same time last year.

And after a short transition period, all of Australia's imports from the UK will be tariff-free.

In 1879, the first ever export of frozen red meat travelled from Australia to the UK.

Since then, our global red meat exports have grown to earn nearly fourteen billion Australian dollars per year on average.

Under this trade agreement, increasing volumes of Australian red meat can be exported to the UK, tariff-free.

This will see us grow the value of Australian red meat by exporting it to where the demand is, and making it more affordable for people in the UK to buy Australia's high quality meat products.

Last month the first tariff-free raw sugar shipment in 50 years departed Australia for the UK.

The removal of tariffs on sugar is re-opening what was once a thriving market for us, before the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973.

But it's not just tariffs that are removed under this agreement…

...The trade agreement also makes it easier for Australian professionals, service providers, and investors to do business in the UK market.

Australian businesses can access skilled workers from the UK - including innovators and early career professionals – to meet local demand, thanks to new mobility pathways.

And Australians have more opportunities to live and work in the UK.

It is fitting we are here today, given that Melbourne is a financial services hub that stands to benefit from preferential access to the UK's vibrant fintech ecosystem.

The removal of localised data hosting requirements under the agreement is a game-changer that will allow businesses to plan their growth, knowing they can collect, process and transfer data between the UK and Australia without facing unnecessary hurdles.

An early entrant taking advantage of these provisions is Australian fintech disruptor, PEXA.

Every time a house is bought, sold or refinanced in Australia it is most likely on the PEXA digital property settlement platform.

PEXA saw an opportunity to bring their proven financial settlement model and expertise to the United Kingdom, which shares a similar regulatory environment.

As PEXA continues to scale, it will benefit from these data and mobility provisions in this important international market.

Another business which will benefit from the trade agreement is Seer Medical and we have Tim Nelson with us here today.

I'm sure Tim will share with us in detail how Seer is benefitting from the trade agreement…

But I wanted to begin by congratulating you and your colleagues for taking the opportunity presented by the trade agreement to make your award-winning epilepsy diagnostic services available to a new cohort of people in the UK.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Seer's UK headquarters during a recent visit to London.

Seer's home-based clinical monitoring system, invented here in Australia by Dr Pip Karoly, has had a real impact for Australians living with epilepsy.

It's a system that gives patients back time in their day that would otherwise be spent under medical supervision.

Seer have been able to expand their system into the UK market thanks to workforce mobility options included in the trade agreement.

This means they can share their flexible diagnostic service with hundreds of thousands more people with epilepsy, and collaborate with research institutions and government organisations in the UK.

As you can see from Seer's example, it's not just through the bottom line that we benefit from this Agreement it is also through the exchange and transference of world-class skills, ideas and inventions that will make our lives and those of others better.

And our Environmental Chapter will see increased cooperation in the transition to clean and renewable energy.

The 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 also preserves the right of governments to regulate in the public interest, including for the environment, education, and health. Importantly, there is no Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism.

As Trade Minister I have continued to highlight my firm belief that more trade will help to secure a stable and prosperous future for Australia and ease the cost of living.

That is why I have been working to diversify Australia's international trade opportunities.

You're likely aware that we are working hard to secure a free trade agreement with the EU that is in our national interest.

And it is no secret that it has been hard work.

Our negotiations with the EU are a live example of the effort we put in to negotiating ambitious and comprehensive trade partnerships.

I want every new trade agreement that we negotiate with a like-minded partner to be the benchmark for the next.

All of our new agreements will be negotiated with Australia's national interests at heart, seeking benefits that can be shared across the whole Australian community.

I hope today's discussion will inspire you to put the Australia-United Kingdom free trade agreement to good use.

You can maximise your contribution to Australian enterprise using this FTA…

…You can boost your bottom line…

…and you create a reverberating impact on our economy and our prosperity.

Thank you.

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