AAP Senior Political Writer
Australia has formally kicked off negotiations for a trade deal with the UK, four-and-a-half months after it left the European Union.
The two governments have been working on a possible trade deal since 2016, but negotiations could not formally start until Brexit took place on January 31.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham is hopeful of a speedy resolution.
“This agreement will underpin the future economic relationship between our two countries and send a strong signal of our mutual support for free trade, which will be in a post COVID-19 world,” he said on Wednesday.
He sees good opportunities for Australian farmers and other exporters along with the potential for a big boost in trade in services.
There are already significant people-to-people links and $1.1 trillion invested between the countries.
The UK is Australia’s seventh-largest trading partner.
Australia had talked up the possibility of being first out of the gates on trade talks with the UK, but the United States started its negotiations in early May.
The first round of talks between Australian and British negotiators will take place on June 29.