Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, has began preliminary talks with his Australian counterpart, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo, to create a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.
Speaking to the Today Programme, Ciobo said:
“We want to do a deal with the UK when the time is right. The timing around that will in many respects be dictating by the UK. The discussions with the EU, the nature of those, the length of them is all yet to be determined.
“My formal advice is that, and this is from the UK side, the UK is unable to negotiate or sign an agreement prior to the formal exit from the EU.
“We can certainly have preliminary discussions and that’s part of what I’m doing here this week. Preliminary discussions around what a post-Brexit Australia-UK trade deal might look like.
“Some discussions about what our ambitions and aspirations are and there’s been good alignment in terms of those conversations.”
Australia is Britain’s 20th largest trading partner, and the deal would be worth an estimated £11 billion.