Here we go! Truss hails ‘great’ Australia trade talks –£18bn post-Brexit deal within reach

Liz Truss submits UK's application to join the CPTPP

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Dan Tehan flew to London this week to hold face to face talks with Ms Truss. Negotiations between the two sides are understood to have stalled in recent months with both sides looking to restore momentum to get the deal over the line.

In total £18.8billion of trade is done between the UK and Australia each year.

Following the conclusion of the talks, Ms Truss said on social media: “Great morning of talks with Dan Tehan on our UK-Australia trade deal.

“We want an agreement that will support jobs across the United Kingdom and strengthen ties between two democracies who believe passionately in free and fair trade.”

In advance of the talks she said the UK wanted to negotiate a “golf standard deal that: slashes tariffs for businesses, pushes new frontiers in digital and services, and supports jobs across Britain.”

Ahead of the meeting this morning, the High Commissioner for Australia to the UK, George Brandis, wrote on Twitter: “Let’s get this deal done.”

It had been hoped a free trade deal could be signed by Easter but talks hit a series of stumbling blocks holding up progress.

Agricultural tariffs are thought to be one of the key sticking points.

British farmers want imports of beef and lamb from Australia to meet the same standards as products produced in the UK.

A UK trade department spokesman said last week: “We remain committed to upholding our high environmental, labour, product and food safety, and animal welfare standards in our trade agreement with Australia, as well as protecting the NHS.”

While both sides have today been eager to express their desire for a deal to be agreed as soon as possible, the talks risked being derailed earlier this week following comments from the Department of International Trade.

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An unnamed source close to the International Trade Secretary was quoted as saying Mr Tehan needed to show Australia meant “action”.

“She plans to sit him down in the Locarno Room [in the Foreign Office] in an uncomfortable chair, so he has to deal with her directly for nine hours,” the source told The Telegraph.

“He is inexperienced compared to Liz.

“He needs to show that he can play at this level.

“Australia need to show us the colour of their money.

“They’re great friends of ours and talk a good game about free trade and wanting a deal, but they need to match those words with action.”

Former Department for International Trade adviser David Henig criticised the remarks.

“Publicly undermining your counterparts in trade talks doesn’t make it terribly easy for them to conclude deals unless they subsequently win on absolutely everything,” he said.

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