The UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade of the UK, Liam Fox, and Australia’s Minister of Trade, Steven Ciobo, today announced in a joint statement that the UK and Australia have established a bilateral trade working group to hold ‘preliminary’ talks and prepare for negotiations on a free trade agreement (“FTA”) between the UK and Australia.

The working group is to meet every six months, with its first meeting set for January 2017 in Australia. The aim of the working group will be to advance an agenda that will ensure the expeditious transition to FTA negotiations once the UK has formally exited the EU.

The UK is currently unable to sign any FTAs with third countries as it is still a member of the EU.

A separate FTA between Australia and the EU is at a more advanced stage. Mr. Ciobo said that any bilateral FTA with the UK will come after the agreement with the EU.

The joint statement can be found here.