Thursday 3 June 2021 11:10 am

UK looks to wrap up Australia trade deal in coming weeks

The UK is aiming to close a free trade deal with Australia in the days after next week’s G7 summit in Cornwall.

Both sides said last month that they would aim to sign up to an in principle agreement by June.

It comes as the 11 nations of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) yesterday agreed to allow the UK to start its ascension to the trading bloc.

Whitehall sources told the Financial Times that a UK-Australia trade deal was “pencilled in” for the week beginning 14 June – just days after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends the G7 summit as a guest.

Morrison is set to remain in London after the summit and will hold bilateral talks with Boris Johnson in Downing Street.

“Everyone is hopeful it will happen then,” one official told the FT.

The trade deal would be the first negotiated from scratch the UK has signed since leaving the EU and would provide a boost for international trade secretary Liz Truss.

However, the deal has divided the cabinet with some unhappy about the wide ranging UK access the deal will give to Australian farmers.

The Prime Minister has sided with Truss who wants to completely open up the British market to Australian beef, lamb and wine products by slashing all tariffs and quotas.

Environment secretary George Eustice, meanwhile, has lobbied for some quotas to remain to protect British farmers.

Former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said recently that British concerns about the trade deal are “childish”.

“Australia has no intention of flooding the British market, we have substantial markets in Asia and that’s where the focus will be,” he told LBC.

Negotiations have seen Australia ask for all tariffs and quotas removed on its agricultural products in return for tariffs being slashed on things like British cars.

The UK also wants Australia to open up its economy to the British telecommunications industry.