The International Trade Minister, Lord Price, and Australia’s Minister of Trade, Steven Ciobo, have met in Australia for the inaugural meeting of the Australia-UK Trade Working Group. The Trade Working Group was established following a meeting between Minister Ciobo and UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, in September, 2016.

The ministers discussed the early priorities for the Trade Working Group and parameters of a future Australia-UK free trade agreement (“FTA”) once the UK leaves the EU.

The ministers also discussed cooperation on other trade policy issues, including the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Trade Organisation, and the importance of work to prepare for an EU-Australia FTA.

At a Brexit lunch hosted by the Australian British Chamber of Commerce in Sydney the day after the Trade Working Group meeting, Lord Price reiterated the strong economic and personal ties between the UK and Australia which he expected would form the basis of a mutually beneficial FTA.

Lord Price stated that the UK was in a strong position to negotiate the terms of its post-Brexit relationship with the remaining EU27. He explained that initial conversations with his counterparts in Europe had been positive and that he was extremely optimistic as to the UK’s medium to long term success, although he conceded that there may be challenges in the short term. In terms of post-Brexit models, Lord Price anticipated a bespoke arrangement to be negotiated for the UK.

A joint statement on the Trade Working Group meeting can be found here.