A free trade agreement between Australia and the UK will send a ‘strong signal’ to China and give a huge boost to exporters in both countries, British trade secretary Liz Truss said.
Ms Truss believes a deal will show the world that London and Canberra support ‘free and fair trade’ and has criticized Beijing for what she called ‘pernicious practices’.
Over the past year, China has blocked major Australian exports, including barley, wine, coal, seafood, timber and beef, and has also been accused of unfairly subsidizing failing state-owned enterprises.
The trade restrictions came after Scott Morrison called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic in June last year.
A free trade deal between Australia and the UK will send a ‘strong signal’ to China, according to UK trade secretary Liz Truss (pictured with Commerce Secretary Dan Tehan)
Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) gather during military training in the Pamir Mountains in Kashgar, northwest China’s Xinjiang region in January
Register the Australian, Ms Truss mentioned China and said Australia and the UK would work together to promote fair trade around the world.
“Together we can stand up for rules-based trade against those who threaten to undermine it through pernicious practices such as unfair subsidies,” she wrote.
Ms Truss, who is in the final stages of negotiating a free trade agreement with Trade Minister Dan Tehan, said Australia and the UK have an “unshakable bond” because of the countries’ shared history.
“I have great affection for your country and admire your principled stance as a great pro-trade champion against pernicious practices from China,” she wrote.
The agreement, which could be agreed in principle this month and signed in November, will give Australian exporters access to tariff-free trade access to the UK market of 65 million people.
Some tariffs are currently as high as 20 percent, which is a huge barrier to trade.
Chinese President Xi Jinping to plant a tree in Beijing in April
The deal will be the UK’s first to negotiate from scratch since Brexit, allowing the UK to leave the European Union and control its own trade policy.
Ms Truss said it would ‘correct a historic injustice’ when the UK entered the European common market in 1973 and subsequently traded less with Australia.
“At this critical time, the UK and Australia can send a strong signal that the best way forward for all of us is in free and fair trade,” she wrote.
“Together we can show our willingness to lead the world as great trading nations.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit London counterpart Boris Johnson after the G7 summit in Cornwall next week.
The pair will discuss the free trade agreement, which is close to being agreed. The bottleneck is agriculture for which the UK wants a transition period of several years to protect its farmers from suddenly increased competition.
British farmers have expressed concern about the pending deal, saying they are struggling to compete with countries that do not have their high animal welfare and environmental standards.
They argue that Australian meat imports fall short of UK benchmarks and warn that the deal will create an uneven playing field.
Mr Tehan rejected the claim, saying Australia wanted to give UK consumers the opportunity to buy high-quality goods over other imports.
In April, Ms Truss said the post-Brexit deal will help UK exports of products such as popular cake brands such as Mr Kipling and high-tech British-made cars and trains.
The UK also wants to abolish tariffs on trains and train components to gain a larger share of sales of rolling stock for use on Australia’s 22,400 mile track.
“From our world-renowned food and beverage industry to our car and train manufacturers, we are pushing for tariffs to be cut on iconic UK exports,” said Ms Truss.
“We know that export-led jobs tend to be more productive and better paid, supporting jobs across the country, helping us to better recover from the pandemic.
“A gold standard deal with our allies Australia, now in sight, would mark the next generation of trade deals and bring major benefits to people and businesses across the UK.”
Ms Truss, who is in the final stages of negotiating a free trade agreement with Commerce Secretary Dan Tehan (pictured together earlier this year), said Australia and the UK have an “unshakable bond” because of the countries’ shared histories