23 Jun

'UK-Aust trade deal could be 'exemplar'' John Besley, AAP

British Trade Secretary Liz Truss believes a free trade agreement with Australia could be an "exemplar" for other nations on "what the future of trade can look like".

Official negotiations for a post-Brexit trade deal between the two countries began last week, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying the agreement would bring the countries "closer than ever before".

In celebration of the negotiations getting under way, the Australian British Chamber of Commerce brought Truss and Australian counterpart Simon Birmingham together for a webinar on each country's hopes and expectations for the trade deal.

After declaring the free trade agreement would serve to further the "excellent" relationship between the two countries, Truss said she was confident the deal would establish a global benchmark for other nations to strive for.

"I expect that the deal that we strike with Australia will be one of the most advanced deals in the world," Truss said.

"I see this as being an exemplar deal where two like-minded free trading nations can show the rest of the world what the future of trade can look like."

During the web conference, she also touched on the importance of ensuring any trade deal between the two countries accommodated the needs of small businesses to thrive in a post-COVID-19 economy.

Truss said the UK and Australia shared "the importance of not putting up trade restrictive barriers at this time when we seek to recover from COVID".

She said the trade deal was one of the first steps towards turning the UK into a "global trading hub".

"Australia has, as a nation, shown itself to be capable of striking free trade deals with virtually everybody," she said.

"They've got a very good free trade deal with the United States, also with various countries across the Pacific and we see Australia as a key partner in that region of the world."

Birmingham largely echoed Truss's comments while also stressing the importance of businesses from both countries taking an active role in the negotiations.

"I know we go into this with similar ambitions and similar belief that because of our common outlook and values, this is an agreement we should be able to strike quickly and easily," Birmingham said.

"We aren't the first ones that the UK has commenced negotiating with but we certainly hope that we can work through (the deal) faster than any others."

The first round of trade talks between the UK and Australia, along with New Zealand, is expected to begin - via video conference - in the coming weeks.

By John Besley, AAP.

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