Liz Truss says UK will be 'adding' to trade deals in 2021
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The fourth round of talks are taking place today, with the UK eager to have a pact wrapped up by Easter. Negotiations are set to ramp up as Britain eyes up finalising the treaty.
Ms Truss said this morning: “Fourth round trade talks start today with our great friends Australia.
“We want a deal that strengthens the global consensus for free trade, cuts tariffs for business and helps propel an exports-led, investment-led recovery across the UK.”
Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK said a deal would be “an early dividend for global Britain”.
George Brandis added: “Getting a deal done will help jobs come back, the economy to grow and strengthen both our nations.”
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The pact is seeking to slash tariff barriers in trade making it more appealing for British firms to do business with Australia, while also cheapening imports to the UK from Down Under.
The Government believes tariffs could be cut by as much as 50 percent under the negotiated deal.
Total trade between the UK and EU is already worth over £17billion a year.
An extra £500million could be added to that total once an agreement is complete.
Agreeing a free trade deal with Australia is one of Britain’s top trade priorities alongside securing pacts with the United States, New Zealand, and joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Trade talks with New Zealand are thought to be progressing at speed and could even be completed before negotiations with Australia.
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“There is a race between Australia and New Zealand,” a senior Department of International Trade official said last month.
“They should both be around Easter, maybe earlier if it goes well.”
Speaking to City AM, the official said negotiations with New Zealand and Australia were “neck and neck”.
Vast progress has also been made on the UK’s accession to the CPTPP.
Earlier this month Ms Truss formally submitted Britain’s application to join the bloc.
The free trade agreement is made up of 11 counters centred around the Pacific Rim.
Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan are all members of the trade pact.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Applying to be the first new country to join the CPTPP demonstrates our ambition to do business on the best terms with our friends and partners all over the world and be an enthusiastic champion of global free trade.”
Agreeing a trade deal is the US is likely to take much longer to achieve.
Last year US President Joe Biden said he would focus on America’s recovery from the pandemic before signing any free trade deals.
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