UK and Australia Sign Trade Deal for Tech Dreams

Today's agreement may bring some opportunities for UK firms in the areas of green tech, financial services and data.

The UK has signed a trade agreement with Australia to offer the possibility of opportunities in the digital and technology sectors.

Announced today (17 December), the UK government calls it “our first ‘from scratch’ since leaving the EU”.

The deal was ‘agreed in principle’ by the UK Prime Minister and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in London in June, and negotiators have now finalised all chapters of the agreement.

The deal is expected to unlock £10.4 billion of additional trade for the UK economy. It covers a variety of things – such as eliminating tariffs on “most” UK exports, but of relevance to the tech crowd are agreements in the digital and technology fields; and notably green technology.

RenewableUK’s CEO Dan McGrail comments: “This free trade agreement will make it easier for UK and Australian companies to export green technologies and expertise, speeding up the transition of both countries to our net zero goals.”

Last month at COP26, the UK Chancellor had talked about net zero matters – and the need for “better and more consistent” climate data, sovereign green bonds and mandatory sustainability disclosures. The concept of climate data has captured the attention of quite a few firms in the UK.

The UK-Oz agreement could also bring some positives concerning financial services (FS), data and digital matters.

TheCityUK Managing Director, International Trade and Investment, Nicola Watkinson, notes: “The agreement rightly focuses on issues important to the services sectors representing 80% of the UK economy, such as recognition of professional qualifications, data and digital provisions, which all create new opportunities for UK exporters. As the UK’s largest exporter of services, the financial and related professional services industry welcomes this agreement.”

It seems TheCityUK is in a happier mood this week. In contrast, and in September, the industry-led body had warned about complacency in FS and the clever competition in a post-Brexit environment.

On a more general level, the trade deal allows UK service suppliers including scientists, researchers and accountants access to visas to work in Australia without being subject to Australia’s skilled occupation list.

In addition, UK businesses and professionals will have “guaranteed certainty of access, helping to make long-term business decisions around the movement of personnel, bidding for and accepting new contracts, and advertising their services in Australia”.

Today’s news follows on from earlier this month when the UK government made a deal in principle with Singapore for a Digital Economy Agreement.

The government was in a party mood as it pointed out that “building on the success” of the UK-Singapore Fintech Bridge, the deal will “enable future growth sectors like fintech and lawtech to benefit from deep cooperation with another advanced economy”.

Antony Peyton
Antony Peyton
Antony Peyton is the Editor of eWeek UK. He has 18 years' journalism and writing experience. His career has taken him to China, Japan and the UK - covering tech, fintech and business. Follow on Twitter @TonyFintech.

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