Australia and the UK reportedly agree to new free trade deal, covering visas and meat exports in the post-Brexit world

WPA Pool/Getty Images
  • Australia and the United Kingdom have reportedly agreed to the terms of a new free trade deal, the UK’s first since Brexit.
  • The deal will reportedly make it easier for qualified workers from one country to live in the other, and ease tariffs and quotas on bilateral meat trade.
  • Both Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are expected to announce the deal in the coming hours.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Australia and the United Kingdom have reportedly agreed on the principles of a new free trade deal, making it easier for Australians to live in the UK and bolstering bilateral livestock trade, with an official announcement expected in the coming hours.

The BBC reports Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson reached an accord during a Monday dinner at Johnson’s London residence.

Both leaders are projected to announce the deal Tuesday morning, local time, before lawmakers in each country attempt to pass the agreement into law.

The deal represents the first new free trade agreement the UK has signed since jettisoning itself from the European Union, which forced the nation to look further afield for many trade guarantees.

Proponents of the deal — including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who now serves as a leading advisor to the UK Government’s Board of Trade — have leaned on Australia’s historical and cultural connection with the UK to push the deal over the line.

That closeness is evidenced in the Sydney Morning Herald, which on Tuesday reported the deal will include tweaks to visa requirements, making it easier for qualified workers from one nation to live and work in the other.

Separately, the deal is expected to erase tariffs and limits on beef and lamb imports — which some UK farmers said would allow Australian producers to flood the local market with cheap meat, forcing smaller producers out of business.

Such a deal could provide new trading avenues for Australian producers, whose exports to China have been impacted by the nation’s own tariffs and sanctions.

The deal represents “a chance to further diversify our exports,” Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan told Sky News Australia on Sunday.

“And the more diversified your exports are the better placed you are for the ups and downs of, especially, global commodity trade.

“So, that’s why we’re pursuing this agreement with the United Kingdom”.

The precise terms of the Australia-UK agreement are not yet known, but the deal will be closely watched as a potential indicator of how the UK could strike free trade agreements with other, bigger trading partners, including the United States.

The UK was Australia’s eighth-largest bilateral trading partner in 2018, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with the relationship valued at $26.9 billion.