Australia Simon Birmingham Photo credit DFAT Chris Crerar

Simon Birmingham. Credit: DFAT/Chris Crerar

Australia and the UK have started negotiating a bi-lateral free trade agreement (FTA), marking the first steps towards a new agreement following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Negotiations were officially commenced on 17 June with both countries seeking to develop an agreement that creates new opportunities for exporters.

Simon Birmingham, Australia’s trade minister, said Australia would be looking to help more agricultural products gain access to the UK.

“Having more export options can only be a good thing for our farmers and businesses, and that’s why we will be seeking improved market access, including for agricultural products, through the elimination, wherever possible, of tariffs, quotas and non-tariff barriers,” Birmingham said.

Currently, Australia only exports small volumes of a select number of fruits and vegetables. Over the past four years it exported an average of 700 tonnes of apples, sending 258 tonnes in 2019. Over the same time period it sent an average of 1369 tonnes of onions.

Australia has also exported sporadic volumes mandarins to the UK, exporting 1,564 tonnes in 2016 but only 203 tonnes in 2019.