Steven Ciobo said it would most likely be at least two-and-a-half years before formal Australia-UK talks could begin, as Britain would have to complete its exit from the EU before this happened.
Ciobo, in London for talks with the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, said a deal with the EU would be placed first. “It will,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “And that’s a consequence of the fact that discussions with the European Union are more advanced than they are with the UK.”
Fox’s department announced on Monday night that the prime minister, Theresa May and her Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, had agreed to set up a bilateral trade working group to “focus on scoping out the parameters of a future ambitious and comprehensive Australia-UK free trade agreement”.
The statement added: “We want the working group to advance an agenda that will ensure the expeditious transition to FTA negotiations when the UK has formally completed its negotiations to exit the EU.”
Australia’s trade minister has told the UK that any post-Brexit trade deal between the nations will have to wait for his country to complete parallel negotiations with the European Union.