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PM hails ‘new dawn’ as UK and Australia agree trade deal – with Britons under 35 able to travel and work there more freely

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The UK and Australia have agreed a free trade deal, the first agreement negotiated from scratch after Brexit.

Boris Johnson said the tariff-free deal, which Downing Street said will see British cars, Scotch whisky and biscuits and ceramics become cheaper to sell, marked a “new dawn in the UK’s relationship with Australia, underpinned by our shared history and common values”.

The prime minister added: “Our new free-trade agreement opens fantastic opportunities for British businesses and consumers, as well as young people wanting the chance to work and live on the other side of the world.

“This is global Britain at its best – looking outwards and striking deals that deepen our alliances and help ensure every part of the country builds back better from the pandemic.”

Key points of the deal revealed so far include:

• Britons under the age of 35 will be able to travel and work in Australia more freely
• Tariffs will be eliminated on Australian favourites like Jacob’s Creek and Hardys wines, swimwear and confectionery, as well as increasing choice for British consumers and saving households up to £34m annually
• Downing Street said the deal will help distillers by scrapping tariffs of up to 5% on Scotch whisky, while car manufacturers in the Midlands and the North of England will see tariffs of up to 5% cut
• Number 10 said more than 450 businesses in Wales exported to Australia last year and stand to benefit, while “life science companies and chemicals manufacturers are set to benefit in particular”
• It said that in Northern Ireland, 90% of all exports to Australia are “machinery and manufacturing goods used extensively in Australia’s mining, quarrying and recycling sectors”, and under the deal tariffs will be removed and customs procedures “simplified”

Trade between the UK and Australia was worth £13.9bn in 2020, with the UK ranking as Australia’s fifth largest trading partner.

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The UK government estimates that the deal will boost Australia’s gross domestic product, the total value of goods produced and services provided, by between 0.01% and 0.06%.

Mr Johnson is understood to have agreed the deal over dinner with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison in Downing Street on Monday, with a final agreement in principle due to be published this week.

There was understood to be division among ministers over the terms of the deal last month, with some concerned a tariff and quota free agreement could leave British farmers struggling to compete.

Farming groups had warned that a proposed free trade deal with Australia could imperil livelihoods.

In a bid to allay those fears, Downing Street said that under the deal British farmers will be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, with other “safeguards” to protect them.