Australia 'concerned' political chaos in UK will spark further delays to key trade deal

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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has expressed concern about potential delays to the Australia-UK free trade deal caused by Britain’s political instability following the resignation of Liz Truss. Speaking to reporters in Perth, Western Australia on Friday, Mr Albanese said: “I’m concerned about any delay that would occur to the Australia-UK free trade agreement.

“I had discussed with Prime Minister Truss the fast-tracking of that. We discussed trying to get it concluded before the end of this year, to make sure that the appropriate parliamentary processes went through our respective parliaments.”

It followed weeks of financial and political turmoil in the wake of then chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s calamitous £45 billion mini-budget giveaway which led to a collapse in support for Ms Truss among Tory MPs.

It also comes just six weeks after Boris Johnson left Number 10, meaning Mr Albanese will soon meet a new British PM for the third time in the five months since Australians brought his Labor Party to power.

 

Mr Albanese joked when comparing his term so far with the leadership turnover in the UK, saying: “My government is stable, is orderly. The adults are in charge.

“I’ve been in office for five months. I’ve met the two British prime ministers, so far, and I obviously will have contact with a third at some time when those issues are concluded.”

Mr Albanese met Ms Truss when he visited the UK for the Queen’s funeral last month, and had met Mr Johnson at a Nato summit in June. 

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At the time George Brandis, the High Commissioner for Australia to the United Kingdom, said it was a sign of the UK and Australia’s “unshakeable friendship”, adding that it is the “fastest and most comprehensive deal ever”.

He wrote: “Signed. Sealed. Delivered.

“Our fastest and most comprehensive trade deal ever was signed today with our best mates in Britain.

“It’s another important part of our economic recovery and a symbol to the world of our unshakeable friendship.”

The Government also touted the deal as a “gateway into the fast-growing Indo-Pacific region”, saying it will “boost” the UK’s bid to join the CPTPP – a free trade area covering £8.4 trillion of GDP and 11 Pacific nations.

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