Australia-UK FTA benefits
Why did the Australian Government pursue a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United Kingdom?
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) is one of Australia's most important partners. Australia has a significant and unique relationship with the UK, underpinned by our shared heritage, common values, historic people-to-people links and advanced, open economies.
The Australia-UK FTA builds on our existing strengths in two-way trade and investment, and signals our shared commitment to global trade liberalisation and a rules-based international order.
The UK is already an important trading partner for Australia. The FTA with the UK deepens our trade and investment relationship for the benefit of Australian businesses and consumers.
We also build on our deep and historic people-to-people links, such as youth mobility exchanges, to ensure the benefits of deeper Australia-UK economic cooperation are distributed as widely as possible.
What are the benefits of the Australia-UK FTA?
Australia has pursued an ambitious and comprehensive FTA with the UK that drives increased two-way trade in goods and services, economic growth and job creation.
Through improved market access for goods and services, the FTA gives Australian exporters a competitive edge when entering the UK market. Australian businesses and consumers also benefit from greater access to competitively priced goods and services, new technologies and innovative practices.
The FTA also further strengthens investment flows between the UK and Australia, playing an important role in growing and diversifying the economy and creating jobs.
What has the Australia-UK FTA delivered?
Services are a crucial component of the two-way trading relationship. The UK is our second-largest services trading partner, accounting for 8.8 per cent ($11.7 billion) of our total services trade in 2021-22. Services sectors that are key to our two-way trading relationship include financial and professional services and telecommunications.
Australia has secured modern commitments from the UK that strengthen our trade relationship across our priority services sectors. This includes securing ambitious commitments on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications and providing greater certainty for skilled professionals entering the UK labour market.
The rapid rise of technology and digitisation is transforming global economies and creating new opportunities for businesses and consumers. Australia has sought modern commitments with the UK that will reduce digital trade barriers and assist Australians to engage with, and benefit from, the digital economy. These are complemented by provisions ensuring appropriate protections for consumers and for legitimate public policy objectives.
Australia's two-way goods trade with the UK was worth $10 billion in 2022, with our major exports to the UK being lead, alcohol and measuring and analysis equipment. Australia has negotiated improved market access for our goods exports, including agricultural products, through the elimination of tariffs, quotas and non-tariff barriers under the FTA.
Under the Australia-UK FTA, Australia's exporters have benefitted, with more than 99 per cent of Australian goods by value receiving duty-free access into the UK.
The UK was the second-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Australia in 2022 ($138 billion), and the second-largest source of foreign investment in terms of total stock ($1.007 trillion). It was also the second-largest destination for Australian foreign investment, with total stock of $836 billion and FDI of $184 billion in 2022. Australia has secured modern and comprehensive investment rules in the FTA that increase opportunities for Australian businesses entering the UK market and enhance Australia's reputation as an attractive destination for UK investment.
By bringing in new businesses with connections in different markets, foreign investment from the UK can create more export opportunities for Australian business. Increased UK investment also encourages competition and increased innovation by bringing new technologies and services to the Australian market.
High-quality rules and standards
Australia has sought high-quality commitments on key sustainability issues, such as environmental protection and labour rights, that align with internationally agreed principles, standards and rules. We have already prioritised the establishment of strong regulatory practice and compliance provisions that create a more predictable business environment for Australian companies.
Ease of doing business
Australia aims to address non-tariff barriers (NTBs) by assessing and removing trade-restrictive measures for trade in goods. Commitments seeking enhanced transparency for customs procedures will also make it easier for Australian companies to do business with the UK.
Who was consulted and how?
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) led Australia's whole-of-government negotiations on the A-UKFTA. Australia's negotiating positions relied on input provided by stakeholders.
Stakeholders were consulted throughout the negotiation process, to discuss details of any specific impediments to trade and investment that could be addressed in the FTA. Views were expressed through public meetings, industry specific consultations and written submissions.
How will the FTA be implemented?
On 17 December 2021, the A-UKFTA was signed during a virtual ceremony. It entered into force on 31 May 2023. The Australian government is actively meeting the commitments of the agreement.
For updates and further information on the implementation of the new Working Holiday Maker arrangement under the A-UKFTA, please refer to the Department of Home Affairs website.
UK market snapshot - Two-way trade
- Population of the UK is 67.79 million (2022)
- The UK's GDP is $3.1 trillion (2022)
- Almost 1.2 million people born in the UK were living in Australia in 2021
- The UK was Australia's 15th largest two-way goods trading partner, worth $19.5 billion in 2022.
- The UK is Australia's second-largest services trading partner, accounting for 8.8 per cent ($11.7 billion) of our total services trade in 2021-22.
The UK was the second-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Australia in 2022 ($138 billion), and the second-largest source of foreign investment in terms of total stock ($1.007 trillion).