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Sunak and Australian PM agree to ‘maximising’ trade opportunities

Rishi Sunak and Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese are “looking forward” to the implementation of the UK-Australia free trade agreement, amid renewed criticism of the deal from the Tory backbenches.

The one-on-one meeting at the G20 summit in Bali came amid an intervention by former environment secretary George Eustice, who said the deals negotiated with Australia and New Zealand included provisions that were not in the economic interests of the UK, with the Government giving away “far too much” to secure the post-Brexit accords.

Mr Eustice criticised the approach adopted by then-trade secretary Liz Truss in pursuing the deals.

Mr Sunak has vowed not to repeat the mistakes made by Ms Truss, telling broadcasters at the summit that he would not “sacrifice quality for speed when it comes to trade deals”.

Following a meeting between the two leaders, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “The leaders welcomed the opportunity to meet in person this week and build on the thriving UK-Australia relationship.

“They underlined the importance of the Aukus partnership for boosting regional security and harnessing the power of our shared values.

“The Prime Minister and Prime Minister Albanese agreed to build on our defence and security relationship, with the Prime Minister stressing the importance of the Indo-Pacific region to the UK.

“The leaders looked forward to the implementation of the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement and to maximising the opportunities it offers for both of our countries. The Prime Minister also thanked Prime Minister Albanese for his support for the UK’s accession to the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) trading bloc.

G20 summit
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (left) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India at the G20 (Leon Neal/PA)

“The leaders looked forward to expanding the work they do in areas like tackling climate change, both bilaterally and through partnerships with small island developing states.”

Mr Sunak also met with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, as the sides continue to negotiate a post-Brexit free trade deal.

The Government missed the Diwali cut-off point for striking an agreement, which was set first by Boris Johnson.

A No10 spokesperson said: “The leaders discussed the range of areas where the UK and India are working increasingly closely and have the opportunity to further develop our links, including defence and security.

“They looked forward to the agreement of a UK-India free trade deal, which has the potential to unlock investment and increase jobs in both our countries, as well as expanding our deep cultural links.”