Liz Truss shuts down host over UK-Australia trade deal

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The UK has already struck deals covering 67 counties in addition to the European Union, securing nearly £900billion in trade as of 2019. Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, who is leading talks with Australia said a “gold standard” with the Southern Hemisphere powerhouse “is now in sight”, and would signal the “next generation of trade deals”. It would also be the first deal the UK has negotiated from scratch since the conclusion of Brexit at the end of last year.

Ms Truss cited a recent report from the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde which stated exports support 6.5 million jobs throughout the UK – around 468,000 of which are in Scotland, adding: “That shows, put simply, that trade equals jobs.”

She insisted the trade opportunities the UK team is working to secure would boost businesses throughout Scotland and by “helping our businesses sell more of their world-class goods and services abroad, we will drive forward an exports-led and jobs-led recovery”.

Writing for The Herald newspaper in Scotland, the International Trade Secretary said: “The opportunities we are working to secure will boost businesses across Scotland, from its whisky producers and financial services industry to its technological trailblazers.

“By helping our businesses sell more of their world-class goods and services abroad, we will drive forward an exports-led and jobs-led recovery.

“A deal with Australia would not just secure opportunities for businesses stretching from Speyside to Sydneyside.

“It would also clear the way for us to join Australia, alongside like-minded allies such as Canada, New Zealand and Mexico, in one of the world’s largest and most dynamic trading areas.

“Joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership would propel our trade to new heights with eleven major and vibrant economies.

“For example, we exported £878 million worth of Scotch whisky in 2019 to nations in CPTPP, and our membership will boost such exports further.”

But Ms Truss also took a huge swipe at the SNP, led by First Minister Ms Sturgeon, over their opposition to these apparent benefits and demands to rejoin the EU.

She warned: “The Scottish Government and SNP don’t want us to do any of this, of course, and would rather remain part of the European Union.

“That would deny the best of Scottish businesses the opportunities offered by CPTTP and hamper their ability to export more to fast-growing consumer markets in the Asia Pacific.”

Ms Truss said exports to Scotch whiskey to Australia have doubled over the last 10 years and is the whisky industry’s eighth-largest market in the world. In 2020, the UK exported Scotch whiskey worth £113million to the country.

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But she warned whiskey exports face a five percent tariff into Australia’s market, something the UK pushing to cut.

Overall, exports of food and drink to Australia surged by more than a quarter (26.5 percent) from 2016 to 2020 – more than double the growth experienced by the EU.

In a final rallying cry, Ms Truss concluded: “Together, we could set the standard for modern trade, with cutting-edge provisions tailor-made to support the industries of the future, securing high-quality jobs for local people.

“We know that Scotland is heaving with innovators, from Edinburgh’s fintech firms like FNZ to developers making chart-topping games in Dundee like Lemmings and Minecraft.

“Top-quality products are being made which people want to buy, which is why I want more of them out there in the world’s major markets.

“Seizing opportunities overseas will help spark new jobs, businesses, and economic growth across the UK.

“Our new Trade and Investment Hub in Edinburgh – alongside the hubs in every other nation of the UK – will ensure businesses and local people can make the most of their global potential.

“This is Global Britain in action: seizing new opportunities around the world as an independent trading nation in huge markets such as Australia while paving the way to prosperity across the UK, especially in Scotland.”

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