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UK’s Future Trading Relationship with Australia: Update on Negotiations

Volume 686: debated on Monday 14 December 2020

The third round of free trade agreement negotiations with Australia took place between 23 November and 4 December. During the two weeks, negotiators completed 46 discussions, spanning the breadth of the free trade agreement.

For every area, text was shared before the round. Both sides continued to have detailed textual discussions, and negotiators are now in the process of consolidating texts in several chapter areas. These include digital, telecommunications, customs, rules of origin, procurement, and cross-cutting provisions such as dispute settlement. Discussions in these chapters indicated areas of common understanding, where progress could be made.

We held detailed technical discussions on text in areas such as investment, professional business services and financial services, including on regulatory co-operation. Across all areas of the free trade agreement negotiation, we identified areas of convergence and some areas of divergence. Both sides are regularly engaging with domestic stakeholders to ensure our respective proposals are informed by their views.

Both sides exchanged their initial goods market access offers before the round. This exchange of goods market access offers is an early milestone, and the speed at which this stage has been reached demonstrates the momentum behind these negotiations. Discussions on market access will continue in parallel with discussions across the free trade agreement.

During the negotiations, the Secretary of State for International Trade had a call with Senator Simon Birmingham, and they agreed on the need to maintain momentum ahead of the next round.

After this round we have agreed to a number of intersessional discussions to ensure the pace is continued heading into the next round.

Below is a summary list of those areas discussed in the round, which continued to take place by video conference:



Customs and trade facilitation



Environment and clean growth

Financial services


Good regulatory practices

Government procurement



Intellectual property


Legal and institutional provisions


Trade remedies

Rules of origin

Services, including movement of natural persons, professional business services, international maritime transport services and delivery services

Small and medium-sized enterprises

State owned enterprises

Sanitary and phytosanitary measures

State-to-state dispute settlement

Technical barriers to trade


Trade and women’s economic empowerment

Any deal the UK Government agree will be fair and balanced and in the best interests of the whole of the UK. As we will in all negotiations, we remain committed to upholding our high environmental, labour, product and food safety, and animal welfare standards in our trade agreement with Australia, as well as protecting the NHS.