“I just think there’s so much mutual benefit to be had,” she said. “We’re interested in areas like financial services, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, greater integration between our two economies and lowering tariffs.
‘Australia is a fantastic market’
“We want to become more trade dependent. That is one of the reasons we are leaving the European Union; we didn’t have control of our trade policy and we were trapped in what is a protectionist bloc.”
Ms Truss said she “definitely” expected more British banks, insurers and other financial services companies to open in Australia, and she also expected greater opportunities for Australian investors to invest in UK infrastructure.
“The City of London leads the world in financial services and leaving the EU regulatory straitjacket is going to give us an opportunity to be more active around the world, and I think Australia is a fantastic market.”
Ms Truss, who met major investors such as Macquarie in Sydney on Wednesday, said she also expected there would be greater collaboration on the digital economy, pointing out the UK had the third-highest number of multibillion-dollar technology firms.
The UK had started to take steps to liberalise its working visas regime and she felt there was room to go further. She was open to the idea of a similar E3-style working visa that Australia has with the US.
“I’m not going to go into the details of the negotiations before they’ve been commenced but certainly those types of areas are areas we can look at,” she said.
“We want to take an approach as we leave the European Union of Britain being open to the brightest and the best and renewing old friendships with key allies like Australia.”
She would not be drawn on whether Australian farmers might have to rein in their ambitions regarding access as British farmers emerge from the shield of EU subsidies and high tariffs, although Ms Truss said UK agriculture was internationally competitive.
She said the UK was “very serious” about joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with its access to fast-growing Asian markets a major part of its appeal.
“First of all, they’re like-minded towards trade. Secondly, the UK is having its first independent trade policy in 45 years and we’ve got a lot of ground to make up,” she said.
“Speed is of the essence and when there’s a ready-made agreement between countries which we like, of course we want to be part of that.”
Ms Truss said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “absolutely determined” for the UK to leave the EU, deal or no deal, on October 31.
She said Britain’s fundamentals remained strong, rejecting the idea that no deal would wreak economic havoc.
“If we don’t secure that deal, what we’re talking about is trading on World Trade Organisation terms with the EU. Now Australia trades successfully on WTO terms with many countries. This is not an Armageddon scenario,” she said.
“Britain continues to do well economically; we’ve got the lowest unemployment in our country since the early 1970s. We’re seeing lots of new companies start up in Britain. And we’re seeing huge amounts of foreign direct investment.”
Financial services could be a winner in UK trade deal – The Australian Financial Review