Australia signs a new free trade agreement with the UK

Dan Tehan free trade agreement

Trade Minister Dan Tehan. Source: AAP/James Ross.

Australia and the UK have signed a landmark free trade deal that includes giving UK firms guaranteed access to bid for an additional $18 billion worth of Australian public sector contracts each year.

The deal will also allow Australian businesses to compete for more British government contracts, make it easier for young Australians and Brits to live and work in both countries, and eliminate tariffs on almost all goods between the two countries once the deal comes into full effect.

As the agreement comes into effect, Australian beef exported to the UK will be taxed only above 35,000 tonnes, growing to 110,000 in coming years. Sheep meat exported to the UK will also immediately rise to 25,000 tonnes without tax and grow to 75,000 tonnes as the agreement develops.

Primary producers and manufacturers of sugar and dairy are also among the winners.

Trade minister Dan Tehan said the agreement was “very comprehensive” and would benefit both the UK and Australia.

“It sees ‘on entry’ into force — the elimination of all tariffs on 99% of goods between the UK and Australia,” Tehan told ABC’s AM program.

“It is a true free trade agreement, it covers all areas.”

He says the agreement will save Australian households and businesses more than $200 million a year on tariffs.

Access to working holiday visas allowing young people Australians and Brits to work in either country for three years will be available to 35-year-olds, up from the current age cut off of 30.

The deal is the first for the UK since Brexit, although some analyses show the deal will only have modest returns.

The UK believes the deal will make it easier for its companies to bid for £10 billion ($18.5 billion) more in Australian government contacts per year, and provide new opportunities to its professional service industries.

This article was first published by The Mandarin.

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