On 15 June 2021, Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson agreed on the broad outlines of an Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Prime Minister Morrison said the FTA is the right deal for Australia and the United Kingdom, with greater access to a range of high-quality products made in both countries as well as greater access for businesses and workers, all of which will drive economic growth and job creation in both countries.
“Australian producers and farmers will receive a significant boost by getting greater access to the UK market,” Mr Morrison said.
“Australian consumers will benefit from cheaper products, with all tariffs eliminated within five years, and tariffs on cars, whisky, and the UK’s other main exports eliminated immediately.”
“Professionals will benefit from provisions to support mutual recognition of qualifications and greater certainty for skilled professionals entering the UK labour market.”
“The ambitious bilateral free trade agreement will help pave the way for the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,” he said.
“The two countries will now finalise the text, and carry out the domestic processes required to enable signature and the subsequent entry into force of the FTA.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Council of Australia, Tania Constable, said the conclusion of an ambitious and comprehensive FTA between Australia and the United Kingdom will create more opportunities for business-led growth.
“Modern investment rules under the AU-UK FTA will encourage further investment between both countries, while clear dispute settlement processes and commitments to enhance digital trade and address non-tariff barriers will be good for Australian mining and mining equipment, technology and services (METS) businesses,” Ms Constable said.
“Australia’s minerals industry and the UK’s industrial sector already have strong partnerships based on a highly developed two-way trade and investment relationship.”
Last year the UK was the second-largest source of total foreign investment in Australia, the stock of investment valued at more than AU$778 billion at the end of 2020. Australia’s two largest mining companies also have direct presences in the UK.
Key minerals exports from Australia to the UK in 2019-20 included gold ($12.7 billion), lead ($468 million) and coal ($214 million).
Ms Constable said the ability to innovate, quickly adopt and adapt technologies keeps Australian mining efficient and internationally competitive, and the AU-UK FTA’s digital trade and intellectual property provisions, which will boost innovation and drive further economic growth through technology-led productivity gains.
“The Australian minerals industry is a reliable supplier of minerals, metals and energy commodities and a global leader in sustainability performance, contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals through water and land stewardship and community partnerships,” she said.
“The AU-UK FTA will help establish reliable and responsible supply chains for new technology materials such as lithium, providing mineral and metal inputs to support advanced manufacturing, highly skilled jobs, and the global clean energy transition.”
“It will also pave the way for a significant boost to investment and co-operation in technology development, research and innovation.”