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Australia agrees to new UK trade deal

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

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The in-principle agreement – announced officially on Tuesday morning (London time) after the two leaders ironed the details over dinner the previous night – will pave the way for more Australians to live and work in the UK and offer exporters more market options.

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

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

“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.

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

However, there is concern over a lack of details in the agreement, with the text of the deal yet to be finalised and the parliaments of both countries still needing to approve it before it comes into force.

Scottish Trade Minister Ivan McKee tweeted that he was due to be briefed about the deal by the UK government 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,” he said.

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.

On Tuesday, Morrison also met the Queen at Windsor Castle, before leaving the UK for France to meet President Emmanuel Macron.

-with AAP

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