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Katina Curtis, AAP Senior Political Writer
(Australian Associated Press)
Australia is match fit and ready to score a winning trade deal with Britain within a year of it leaving the European Union, Scott Morrison has declared.
The prime minister held an “enjoyable and very lively” discussion with his British counterpart Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the G7 summit in France on Monday, the first time they’ve met since both became leaders.
Asked if he thought Mr Johnson could deliver Brexit on October 31 as promised, Mr Morrison said anyone in the room with them that morning would have been absolutely convinced of it.
“I very much enjoyed our meeting, let’s just say that,” he told reporters in Biarritz, with a smile and a chuckle to himself.
“We’re gonna have a great relationship … despite his cricket sledging, which was very modest.”
Australia has been preparing to get a trade deal moving with the UK as soon as it is no longer bound by EU rules.
The US is making similar preparations.
Mr Johnson said it would impossible to get a deal with the US finalised in less than a year but Mr Morrison said Australia would be able to move quicker than that.
“I think we can move forward rapidly – remember, we’ve been setting our own records when it comes to striking these agreements around the world,” he said.
“So we’re pretty match fit when it comes to these issues.
“If anyone is in a room talking about better trade and freer trade, you’ll find Australia in that room. And we’re good at it.”
A Downing Street spokesman said there was joint enthusiasm for an “enhanced and deep trading relationship”.
Mr Morrison expects the “80-20 rule” to apply, meaning negotiators will be able to lock in most of the deal before getting to work on a few stickier details.
“There is a lot of low hanging fruit we can move very quickly on,” he told AAP.
He expects sealing a deal with Australia will create momentum for the UK to be able to quickly conclude negotiations with other countries.
The two prime ministers also discussed Australia’s plans to help the UK and US in military operations in the waters south of Iran.
“You guys are going to be joining the maritime operations,” Mr Johnson said in reference to the Strait of Hormuz.
“Yeah, absolutely. I met with the United States yesterday. That’s all come together, we’ve got a lot to do,” Mr Morrison replied.
Later, Mr Morrison said the UK was “very appreciative” of Australia’s participation in the operation.
“Our involvement lines up with the UK’s involvement,” he told AAP.
“It’s based on a point of principle and we respect it.”
A surprising topic was Australia’s new space agency, which both the UK and Italy are keen to work with.
“I have no doubt Premier (Steven) Marshall, pardon the pun, will be over the moon when it comes to the space agency initiatives,” Mr Morrison said.