Commenting on news of an Australia-UK trade agreement, BCC Head of Trade Policy, William Bain, said:

"Businesses will welcome this confirmation that the Australia-UK trade agreement has been finalised. There are opportunities for exporters in a new speedier customs process, zero tariffs on the vast majority of UK exports, improved market access on services, free flow of data and generous provisions on labour mobility for under 35s for up to 3 years.

“We will carefully examine the draft text of the trade agreement but look forward to it being in force by the middle of 2022. The key test of the success of this agreement will be the value it delivers in practice for small and medium sized businesses in the UK looking to export.

“Accredited Chambers of Commerce will look forward to working with the Department for International Trade to bring this deal to life for businesses and support them in taking advantage of the opportunities it presents."

David McCredie, the CEO of the Australian British Chamber of Commerce which represents the interests of 25,000 businesses engaged in trade across the two countries said:

“The potential impact is huge. This Free Trade Agreement is one of the most ambitious agreements signed by Australia and reflects the strength of historical and ongoing trading ties between the two nations.

“While we have all heard of the impact on agriculture and trade, our members and I are hugely encouraged by the provisions which address issues of skilled and experienced workers, the growing need to address digital aspects and the potential for cross-border investment.”

Key elements of the FTA: 

  • Zero-tariff, zero-quotas on vast majority of UK exports to Australia from Day 1 the agreement is in force. Tariffs on whisky, gin & wine – abolished.
  • In the UK, will be lengthy transition period over 15 years on tariffs on certain Australian agri-food imports to safeguard UK domestic producers. Tariff rate quotas will be applied over the transition period.
  • Provides market access into  Australian industrial products markets for UK goods from Day 1 in force.
  • On professional services – accountancy, legal – considerably improved market access, on business travel and terms & conditions of access. Mutual recognition of professional qualifications. Market access provided unless dealt with in reservations.
  • Reciprocal labour mobility scheme for under 35s for up to 3 years. Also reciprocal removal of economic needs tests on sponsor visas. Balanced guarantees that are broadly reciprocal to maintain visa pathways for service suppliers for a substantial number of sectors.
  • Equivalence on SPS measures - allowing for digital Export Health Certificates to be used.
  • Government procurement opportunities expanded.
  • Agreement provides for free flow of data, e-contracts and deepens co-operation on AI and cyber-security.
  • SME chapter provisions focuses on tangible measures to make trade happen – sharing best practice on trade programmes, having dedicated tariff websites, and setting maximum time 48 hours for goods to be in customs transit.
  • Climate – Paris commitments referred to in sustainability chapter and have retained rights to regulate.
  • Digital trade chapter will facilitate trade in goods and improve speed of movement through customs processes (48 hours).
  • Specific annexes in agreement on medical devices (plus a side letter) and cosmetics. Agreement on co-operation on veterinary medicines.