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Morrison's UK trade deal: Why we'll all be driving Jags and drinking Scotch

Politics

British-made cars and Scotch whisky will become cheaper and Australian farmers will get more of their products on UK store shelves, Prime Scott Morrison says after he reached a trade deal with his counterpart Boris Johnson in London.

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“I said we would wait for the right deal, and I think we’ve got the right deal between the UK and Australia,” Morrison told reporters in the garden of 10 Downing Street on Tuesday morning after he and Johnson announced they had sealed an in-principle agreement over dinner the previous night.

“Our economies are stronger by these agreements. This is the most comprehensive and ambitious agreement that Australia has concluded.”

Johnson joked that the deal meant “you give us Tim Tams and we give you Penguins, you give us Vegemite and we give you Marmite, we give you Burberry and Mackintoshes and you give us RM Williams Japaras”.

The deal will pave the way for more Australians to live and work in the UK and offer exporters more market options.

It will also scrap a requirement for British backpackers to work on Australian farms for 80 days before extending their visas.

“There’ll be free exchange of British rent-a-Poms and indeed Australian campaign managers will be able to come more easily to work in this country,” Johnson said in an apparent reference to former Liberals adviser Lynton Crosby, who has recently worked for the UK prime minister’s Conservatives.

The text of the agreement has yet to be finalised and the parliaments of both countries will need to approve it before it takes hold.

Scottish Trade Minister Ivan McKee tweeted that he was due to be briefed about the deal by the UK government along with ministers from Wales and Northern Ireland on Tuesday morning “but our call has been put back until much later because we were told ‘not enough of the deal is nailed down’”.

Morrison said consumers in Australia will benefit from cheaper products as tariffs on cars, whisky and other UK exports would be eliminated immediately.

“The UK will liberalise Australian imports with 99 per cent of Australian goods, including Australian wine and short and medium grain milled rice, entering the UK duty free when the agreement enters into force.”

But import tariffs on Australian beef and lamb will only be fully phased out over 15 years following the urgings of UK farmers concerned about being crushed by cheaper produce from Australia.

Johnson said people in the UK could look forward to paying less for “Australian favourites like Jacob’s Creek and Hardys wines, swimwear and confectionery”.

Australia will remove its tariffs of up to five per cent on cars manufactured in England and Scotch whisky.

Industry groups said the UK exported 20,000 cars to Australia in 2019 and the country was the eighth-largest market by value for Scotch whisky.

Business Council of Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott said the “record-setting” deal was a huge win after Australian exporters were effectively locked out of the UK market for almost 50 years.

“Australia is going to the front of the pack, set to become the UK’s most ambitious post-Brexit trade partner,” she said in a statement.

Morrison also met the Queen at Windsor Castle on Tuesday, telling her she had been popular at the G7 summit in Cornwall that he had also attended last week.

“You were quite the hit. Everyone was talking about you at dinner the next night,” Morrison told her.

The Queen replied: “Oh Lord. Were they really?”

Morrison added: “They were. They were thrilled to see you.”

It was the first time the Queen has been photographed carrying out an audience in person, rather than virtually, since March 2020, just before England’s first lockdown.

The monarch, who wore a bright yellow floral dress, chatted to Morrison on Tuesday in the royal residence’s Oak Room.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Queen has held scores of virtual audiences at Windsor, with guests usually speaking to her via video-link from Buckingham Palace.

It’s been a very busy week for the 95-year-old Queen, who travelled by train to southwest England’s Cornwall on Friday to host an evening reception for world leaders attending the Group of Seven summit.

She then returned to Windsor to preside over an annual military parade in honour of her official 95th birthday on Saturday.

The next day she welcomed US President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden with afternoon tea at the castle.

The action-packed weekend is a contrast to much of the past year, which saw the Queen holding scores of online audiences from her residence because of the pandemic.

The monarch has carried on performing her duties although she is mourning the loss of Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years. Philip died in April at 99.

 

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