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Britain to negotiate with Australia for its first wave of post-Brexit trade deals

By Amanda Cooper

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab says he is committed to launching an ambitious free-trade agreement between the two countries as soon as possible

Dominic Raab and Marise Payne are set to negotiate free-trade deal

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab hopes that a free-trade deal with Australia will be one of the first Britain signs following its exit from the European Union.

Having left the EU on January 31, the UK is now in a transition period that will run until the end of December. During this time, it can renegotiate its trade relationship, not only with the single market but also with other major partners.

“We’ve got a trade relationship already worth 17 billion pounds ($22bn, €20bn), but we’ve got the potential to do so much more,” Raab said at a press conference in the Australian capital of Canberra.

“That’s why we’ve re-committed today to launching negotiations on an ambitious free-trade agreement between our countries as soon as possible. Australia, we hope, will be part of that first wave of high-priority deals that we are pursuing,” Raab said, following a meeting with his Australian counterpart, Marise Payne.

According to Australian government data, the UK is the second largest source of foreign investment in the country and is its eight-largest two-way trading partner, worth $26.9bn in 2018.

Australian investment in the UK was $408bn in 2018, with foreign direct investment accounting for $118.7bn of that total, based on the data.

“I am confident Australia can negotiate a very positive free-trade agreement with the UK. I’m equally confident that Australia has been working, for some time, with the EU on the priorities for that FTA. We can do both,” Payne told reporters.

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