Australia and UK take first step to post-Brexit free trade deal

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 07:46 GMT, Sep 7, 2016 |

The UK is to begin preliminary talks with Australia about the outline of a future free trade deal between them.

Officials will meet twice a year to discuss the parameters of what both sides said they hoped would be an “ambitious and comprehensive” deal. Australia has been earmarked by the UK as its first post-Brexit trade partner.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and his counterpart Steven Ciobo said they shared a “strong political commitment” to trade liberalisation.

In a joint statement, Mr Fox and Mr Ciobo said: “Both of us want a future FTA (free trade agreement) to generate new trade and investment opportunities. We will prioritise consultation and outreach to our respective stakeholders to seek their input to the work of the Working Group”.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has used Australia as an example of one of the nations keen to strike a free trade deal with the UK post-Brexit. But the reality is it could be years before any deal is done.