© Reuters. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson bumps elbows with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Downing Street in London, Britain, June 14, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
By Colin Packham
CANBERRA (Reuters) – Britain and Australia have agreed a trade deal after talks between their prime ministers ironed out outstanding issues, Australia’s Minister for Trade Dan Tehan said on Tuesday.
Britain had made securing a trade deal with Australia a priority for its post-Brexit strategy as it seeks to build stronger commercial and diplomatic links in the Indo-Pacific region, but negotiations have dragged on for months.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his British counterpart Boris Johnson overcame sticking points during a bilateral talks after the Group of Seven meeting in Britain over the weekend, which Morrison had attended as a guest.
“Both prime ministers have held a positive meeting in London overnight and have resolved outstanding issues in relation to the [Free Trade Agreement],” Tehan said in a statement.
A formal announcement would be made later on Tuesday, Tehan said.
The deal will be keenly scrutinised by British farmers, who fear they could be forced out of business if the deal eliminates tariffs on lamb and beef imports from Australia.
Though details have still to emerge, official estimates say the agreement could add 500 million pounds ($705.7 million) to British economic output over the long term.
For Australia, however, analysts questioned the importance for an economy already focused on Asia.
“This free trade agreement is more about symbolism than immediately tangible material benefits,” said Ben Wellings, senior lecturer in politics and international relations at Monash University.
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