BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg hails ‘first trade deal agreed from scratch since Brexit’

Australia trade deal: Burley quizzes Gove on impact on farming

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Boris Johnson will today announce Brexit Britain has struck its first major free trade deal since the UK officially left the EU on December 31, 2020. The Prime Minister and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, dined together in London on Monday and finalised the broad terms of a new trading pact between the two Commonwealth nations.

Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC Political Editor, explained the Brexit meeting had come with some complications as it clashed with a speech Mr Johnson was due to give to MPs about the lockdown.

Speaker Sir Lindsey Hoyle vented against the Government over a decision to announce coronavirus plans in a media press conference before the House of Commons and forced Health Secretary Matt Hancock to step in at the last minute.

In a thread on Twitter, Ms Kuenssberg wrote: “While Speaker was furious PM wasn’t in the Commons to do Covid announcement, he was in Number 10 having dinner with the Australian PM, Scott Morrison – understand the 2 have agreed to broad terms of a Free Trade Agreement.”

She added the finer details on the agreement had yet to be disclosed and revealed there would be concerns for some, including the farming industry, amid fears of being undercut by imports.

Ms Kuenssberg went on to stress the importance of an agreement between London and Canberra getting over the line.

She added: “But Downing Street will be pleased to point to the first trade deal that’s been agreed from scratch since Brexit.”

The UK is currently Australia’s eighth-largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth around £20billion.

A zero-tariff and zero-quota agreement are estimated to add around £500million to the UK economy.

The agreement will also help pave the way for Britain to expand into emerging markets in the Indo-Pacific and Asia.

Britain has already applied to join the lucrative Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), an 11-nation trading bloc that includes Australia, Canada and Japan.

Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the principle agreement between London and Canberra was “exciting” for the economy.

Michel Gove has this morning hailed Australia as a “friend and ally” to the UK.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also knocked back concerns over the impact of a deal on UK farmers and insisted the agreement would put the industry on the “world stage”.


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He told Sky News: “I think that there have been one or two points that have been made about Australia during the course of this debate that mischaracterises how Australian farmers operate and the opportunities also for UK farmers.

“So it’s important that we maintain protections and support for farmers.

“But it’s also the case that opening up trade barriers, bringing them down and opening up the opportunities, provides our farmers with the chance to show on the world stage the amazing quality of UK produce.”
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