BRITAIN is poised to clinch a £18billion trade deal that will bring a triple boost for millions of hard-working families.

Minister Liz Truss predicts more jobs, higher wages and lower prices as a result of tariff-free export links she is forging with Australia.


The International Trade Secretary declared: “It’ll be win, win, win — and we hope that will just be the start.”

She believes the agreement with our friends Down Under will add £400million to wages in the UK.

But, more importantly, it will give Britain a foothold in the lucrative Asia-Pacific bloc — and the chance to join its £9trillion trading club.

Two-thirds of the world’s ­middle-class population will live in the region by the end of the decade and it is a market Ms Truss is ruthlessly targeting.

In an exclusive interview with The Sun on Sunday, the minister promised lockdown lifting would allow her to be “unleashed” to drum up even more opportunities.

She said: “I want them to get their hands on fantastic British products — whether it’s beef or lamb, whisky, cars, robotics, insurance or financial services.

“That’s why the Australia deal is so important. It’s a key step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"Entry into that ­massive trade area will bring huge benefits for British business because it’s a part of the world that is growing very, very fast and there is growing demand for the kind of products we sell.”

Gazing out of her Whitehall office window, with its stunning vista across Horse Guards, she told how the whole world was now in her sights.

DEALS WORTH £900BILLION

Since Brexit, she has signed deals covering 67 countries based on existing EU deals worth a total of £900billion.

Australia — due to be sealed before the G7 summit next month — will be the first negotiated from scratch.

It will mean 20p off the price of a bottle of Aussie wine and more highly paid jobs as British exporters expand workforces.

Last week, talks hit a stumbling block after Cabinet colleagues warned UK farmers would be ruined by a flood of cheap Aussie beef and lamb.

But after winning the support of the PM, a deal — with tariffs on British meat to be phased out over ten years — will be finalised soon.

Ms Truss’s first Cabinet job was as Environment Secretary, four years after she was elected MP for the farming community of South West Norfolk.

And she insists she understands the concern of farmers — but has got their back.

She said: “British farmers have absolutely nothing to fear from this deal at all. In fact, we’ve got an awful lot to gain, particularly from the wider opportunities in the Asia Pacific area.

“That’s where demand for beef and lamb is expected to rise ­significantly over the next ten years and we are gaining more access to those markets.

"This is where the big opportunities lie.

“A lot of supermarkets only stock British beef — I always buy British beef myself. It’s fantastic. Most Australian beef is already committed to the Asian markets which are closer.

“But in the high-end area people might want a choice of different types of meat and I’m not sure we should stop them ­buying it.

“We currently import over 2,000 tons from the EU and we do import beef and lamb from Australia already.

“But demand from the Asian markets will rise significantly over the next ten years and our farmers are looking at those markets.

FREE TRADE

“I’m absolutely confident the deal we strike will enable our farmers to compete successfully.”

Driving up exports is a crucial part of Boris Johnson’s levelling-up agenda, she added, as it generates highly paid jobs.

Ms Truss has clocked up thousands of miles, and spent hours on Zoom calls, drumming up trade deals.

In lockdown, her working day has expanded with Zoom calls to Australia and New Zealand at 7am and working through to 9pm to phone the Americans.

Ms Truss heads a team of 2,000 specialist civil servants from her new office at the Old Admiralty Building, where James Bond creator Ian Fleming once led a Second World War intelligence unit.

By her desk is a bust of 18th-century free trade champion Adam Smith and a biscuit barrel bearing the slogan: “I biscuit — I tariff.”


She admits enjoying the thrill of her job and said: “I spent my childhood in Scotland and Yorkshire so I love a bargain.

“I relish haggling and always get the best price. I’m quite thrifty.”

 

After the Oz deal, Ms Truss has her sights set on New Zealand and the US — with talks with India, Mexico, Canada and the Gulf region “in the pipeline”.

Closer to home she’s working on a deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to open up new markets for British products.

She said: “Free trade is a very big benefit of Brexit. We are now able to decide our own destiny.”

Flag bearer

PATRIOTIC trade supremo Liz Truss flies the flag on trade missions — to woo her opposite numbers.

She always carries a small consignment of British-made gifts to hand out at talks, including Scotch whisky, Stilton cheese and Staffordshire pottery.

Ms Truss took Union Jack-themed Emma Bridgewater mugs to Vietnam and a Burleigh tea set to Japan.

She said: “I always take a teapot or teacups. I like to demonstrate the range of products we make.”

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