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UK trade minister brands Australian climate storm ‘fake news’

UK trade minister brands Australian climate storm ‘fake news’

Liz Truss also said the UK would sign a full-blown free deal with India.
U.K. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said reports Britain dropped demands on Australia to sign up to climate targets were “fake news.”

Truss said Australia had "committed for the first time in any trade agreement a clause on climate change."

It was reported last week that ministers agreed to drop binding temperature targets in the Paris climate change deal from the trade pact between Britain and Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed the reports when speaking to journalists. He said it “wasn’t a climate agreement, it was a trade agreement” — despite the insistence from Britain that the deal has numerous climate safeguards.

But Truss argued in response to a question from POLITICO: "Australia has committed for the first time in any trade agreement a clause on climate change. Both parties have reaffirmed their commitment to Paris which is what we agreed at [agreement in principle] and what will be in the final deal. So the stuff you're repeating is simply fake news about that."

Truss also said a deal with India will be a full-blown free trade agreement, despite numerous people in the Department for International Trade admitting it will amount to only a series of mini-deals.

And on claims the U.K. has been slow to finish new trade deals and too desperate to get them over the line, she quipped: “We’re a bit like Goldilocks, we’re doing it just at the right speed to secure the full U.K. interest.”

However, she refused to confirm whether she hoped to finish a deal with the U.S. ahead of the next U.K. general election set for 2024. Talks with Washington went cold after Joe Biden was elected president in 2020. “The U.K. is absolutely ready to negotiate when the U.S. are,” Truss said.

In a speech in Westminster, Truss suggested the U.K. should face down concerns about low-standard product imports in order to strike agreements with other nations, as she called on Britain to move from “defense to offense” in its post-Brexit trade approach.

"There are some people here in Britain who said if goods are not produced exactly according to the way they are produced in Britain we shouldn't be importing them," she said. "But we've got to look at the logical results of those types of attitudes … it would mean British consumers paying higher prices in shops."

“Now is the time we need to dump the baggage of the previous debates and look forward to the future of trade rather than the past,” she said as she trained her sights on greater trade with Asia, including with India and the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
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