Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced that on 31 May, a new free trade agreement with the UK will enter force. The agreement has significant ramifications for Australia’s alcohol exporters and domestic hospitality industry.
“From June 1, it is game on for Australian businesses, game on for UK businesses,” Albanese stated, speaking in London last Thursday.
Australian Grape & Wine CEO, Lee McLean, welcomed the announcement, highlighting the importance of the UK market to Australian winemakers.
“The UK is Australia’s second largest export market by value at $359 million, and our largest by volume with 208 million litres of wine exported to the UK to March 2023,” McLean said.
“For wine, the Agreement will see the elimination of import tariffs on entry into force. This creates a level playing field for Australia’s wine exports with our major competitors from Continental Europe.
“We estimate the tariff elimination represents a saving of approximately AUD $50 million per year for the Australian wine sector, although a decline in exports in recent months in line with changing market conditions in the UK may reduce this figure.”
Markets like the UK are all the more important to winemakers and exporters in Australia, given that Chinese tariffs on Australian wine are set to remain in place until 2026, something McLean hinted at.
“Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are a major contributor to improving export market access and removing barriers to trade. These are now more important than ever with the Australian grape and wine sector’s continued prioritised efforts to grow and diversify our export markets,” he concluded.
The Free Trade Agreement also makes it easier for young people to move between both nations.
Australians will be able to apply for equivalents to the working holiday visa until they are 35, and remain in the country for three years. The same will be true of Britons coming to Australia, with potential benefits for the hospitality industry, which has traditionally been one of the major employers of British ‘backpackers’.
In 2021, when the deal was first inked, the Australian Hotels Association National CEO, Stephen Ferguson, said it would ease staffing issues in the sector.
“Hotels are crying out for skilled and unskilled workers and this agreement will make it easier for chefs and other in demand workers from the UK to get employment here and stay here for longer once they arrive,” Ferguson commented.
Read more about the agreement here.