Australia-UK trade deal close as PM visits

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is en route to Cornwall in the United Kingdom for the first G7 summit in two years.

Mr Morrison will sit down with other world leaders and attend sessions on health, the economy and climate change over the course of the weekend conference.

He is expected to meet US President Joe Biden, Japanese leader Yoshihide Suga and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.

After the summit he will meet with British PM Boris Johnson in London and hold talks in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“There has never been a more important time for Australia to be at the table with the world’s largest liberal democracies and advanced economies,” Mr Morrison said.

“The global pandemic and the recession it has caused means like-minded countries and businesses need to work together to lead the global recovery to restore lives and livelihoods.

“There is a lot at stake for Australia, the region and the world.”

While Mr Morrison is not expected to make any new commitments on climate, Australia is facing calls to support carbon tariffs on emissions-intensive imports.

However, the prime minister considers any form of carbon tariff to be against Australia’s national interest.

Mr Morrison said while tackling climate change would be a key issue, other focus areas would be preparedness for future pandemics, business-led growth, free and fair trade and the international rules-based order.

Ahead of the conference, the prime minister held a face-to-face meeting with Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong.

Singapore is expected to be the second country after New Zealand to establish a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia.

However, Mr Morrison said the travel arrangements were still some months away.

“There is still some time before we reach that milestone,” he told reporters in Singapore.

“But there is nothing impeding us, as we’ve discussed today, of getting on with the job of putting systems in place that will enable such a bubble to emerge between Singapore and Australia.”

Mr Morrison said priority would be given to students from Singapore to be able to return to Australia to complete their studies.

The Singaporean prime minister indicated the travel bubble would not be approved until the majority of populations in both countries had been vaccinated.

Australia lags behind Singapore in the vaccination process, having administered about 5.4 million vaccines.

Just under half the 4.7 million-strong adult population in Singapore has been fully vaccinated with both doses.

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