Liam Fox, the UK International Trade Secretary, held preliminary talks with Steven Ciobo, the Australian Minister for Trade, to discuss a future trade agreement between the two nations. The British government hopes that not invoking Article 50 until the new calendar year will provide sufficient time to put in place new trade agreements before the UK officially leaves the EU. Although Mr Ciobo spoke of positive talks with his UK counterpart, he said that there would be “no rush” in drawing up a new trade agreement, and any formal talks will be subject to the UK’s negotiations with the remaining EU members. Mr Ciobo and Mr Fox agreed to set up a working group which will meet twice a year, starting from January 2017, to discuss areas of co-operation and investment opportunities. Currently, a major hurdle for the UK is that it has no trained negotiators of its own, as EU member states are not permitted to sign their own trade deals. However, the Australian government has offered to loan its own experts to the UK in the meantime to allow formal talks to begin.
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