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Liz Truss and her Department for International Trade colleagues have concluded the latest round of talks with Australia on securing a trade deal – potentially worth many billions of pounds. Australian authorities say two-way goods and services trade between Australia and the UK was valued at £17 billion in 2018-19.
Officials on both sides held 51 negotiation sessions covering 27 different chapter areas and after intense discussions have reached a provisional agreement in cross-border trade in services.
A Department for International Trade spokesman said discussions were also being taken forward on investment which Whitehall officials hope to include in the deal to “further enhance our strong bilateral relationship”.
The UK Government say Britain wants to build on their position as the second-largest direct investor in Australia and the second-largest recipient of Australian Foreign Direct Investment in 2019.
Express.co.uk understands both negotiating teams have planned more talks in the coming weeks to continue this momentum ahead of the fifth round of talks which is expected to seal the final aspects of a trade deal.
Whitehall officials close to International Trade Secretary Ms Truss told Express.co.uk the move would make the UK a “trade supernation”, adding: “Negotiations are extremely positive and are closing in slowly but surely.
“As a former Commonwealth nation, Australia is a priority for us in a post-Brexit world.
“It will get us ahead on the world trade stage and help Britain prosper and boom.”
Boris Johnson has invited Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison to attend the G7 summit in Carbis Bay in June.
As he launched his Integrated Foreign Affairs and Defence Review on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said trade priorities would be focused on the Indo Pacific region.
Mr Johnson said this change was in response to the “region in response to the rise of China.”
The Prime Minister insisted the UK must be a “force for good” in the world “because without power, without economic, military, diplomatic, cultural clout, we can do nothing”.
It comes as the UK has commenced formal talks and applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The £9trillion bloc has Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore among its members as well as Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam.
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Joining the bloc could make travel for business people between CPTPP countries easier because of the potential for faster and cheaper visas.
Officials also say becoming a member will allow tariffs to be abolished quicker on key UK exports including whisky and cars.