Former Australian PM: UK is not a ‘top tier’ trading partner

Former Australian PM Julia Gillard appeared to pour cold water over the UK's future trading relation

Former Australian PM Julia Gillard appeared to pour cold water over the UK's future trading relationship, saying it is not a "top tier" country. Picture: Sky - Credit: Sky

The former prime minister of Australia had some deflating news at the Conservative party conference, saying that the UK is not 'the absolute top tier' of trading partners.

Julia Gillard, of the Australian Labour party, was interviewed at the conference by Sky and said that China, the USA and the EU come first in the eyes of the country's trade negotiators.

"What I do know from my days as former prime minister is this: the United Kingdom is not in the sort of absolute top tier of our current trading relationships obviously," she told Sky's Kay Burley.

"China is, the US is," she continued. "We are as a nation negotiating a free trade agreement with the European Union so those discussions are under way."

The comments come just days after international trade secretary Liz Truss, fresh from talks with her Australian counterpart, announced that the country is a top priority for the UK and that the Aussies are "very keen to get on with it".

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In a joint press conference with Australian trade minister, Simon Birmingham said that the UK is a "top ten" trading partner and that he was keen to see the two nations have "the richest, deepest economic ties possible for the future".

The Liberal party minister spoke of wanting greater access to the UK market which had previously been restricted by "EU arrangements".

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At the Tory conference, Gillard did observe that Australia would be interested to "talk about" a deal with post-Brexit Britain, saying: "Should the UK in the future want to be in trade discussions with Australia, I'm sure that will happen.

"Because as a great trading nation our view always is that we can make our way in the world, and if there's a good deal to be had then we're certainly happy to talk about it."

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