Who are the winners of the UK-Aus FTA?

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Who will benefit most from the newly-agreed trade deal between Australia and the UK?

The new free trade agreement (FTA) between the UK and Australia finalized in principle this month has been hailed by the British government as a key milestone as it seeks to make its own trading arrangements outside the EU. As the first deal negotiated from scratch post-Brexit, prime minister Boris Johnson has been keen to hail it as the dawn of a new 'global Britain', but not everyone is convinced.

Indeed, the deal has been controversial in some quarters in both the UK and Australia, with the British agricultural sector worried about competition from new imports, and some Australian politicians concerned about the easing of restrictions on overseas workers.

While the exact final details are still to be worked out, however, there are some clear indications of who stands to benefit from the deal.

Australian exporters set to take advantage

Several commentators have suggested it will be Australian firms that enjoy the biggest benefits from the FTA. Indeed, according to an analysis by the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO), Australia stands to see a boost to its exports six times greater than that of the UK.

It said the removal of tariffs on products such as wine, swimwear and confectionery will especially benefit Australian exporters, while the country's agricultural sector is also in line for significant benefits, though these may take longer to fully materialize due to a phased withdrawal of tariffs and quotas.

Overall, it calculated Australia will increase its exports to the UK by 2.2 percent, whereas UK imports to Australia would only climb by 0.35 percent. Meanwhile, Australia is set to enjoy a rise of 0.16 percent to its GDP, more than double the 0.7 percent boost the UK is expected to see.

A key reason for this is that Australia has a much smaller economy overall compared with the UK, while current trade volumes between the two are also fairly low. While the UK is the fifth-biggest destination for Australian exports, the country is only the UK's 19th-largest trading partner.

However, one of the big motivators for Canberra has been to increase access for its farmers, which is something the new FTA will achieve in the long term. This has been one of the biggest points of contention in the UK's agricultural sector, and an issue the government has tried to address with the phasing in process over the next 15 years.

Dmitry Grozoubinski, a former trade negotiator for the Australian government and director of Geneva-based trade consultancy ExplainTrade, told CNN: "We don't have all the details so far but judged in terms of exports it looks to be a fantastic deal for Australia ... We have far fewer details on what the UK managed to extract by way of concessions in exchange, however."

Will the deal boost the UK?

A key question for the UK will be what impact the deal has when it comes to negotiating other free trade arrangements. Some commentators have suggested the precedents set in the Australia FTA could be repeated in other deals that may have a much larger impact on the UK economy - but at the same time, could also lead to further difficulties with the EU, which remains the UK's largest trading partner.

Professor Michael Gasiorek, director of the UKTPO at the University of Sussex, said:  "Liberalizing agriculture may set a precedent with regard to future agreements (for example with the US) and it remains to be seen quite what has been agreed with regard to food standards."

He also added that if imports to the UK from Australia do not meet EU standards, this may create further problems for issues such as the Northern Ireland protocol, and could result in more trade with the EU being lost than is gained from Australia.

William Bain, head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, added in a statement: "Trade with Australia represents only around 1.2 percent of the UK's total, so whilst a deal will have welcome benefits it will not offset the ongoing issues with trade to the European Union."

It's also important to note that while the deal has been agreed in principle, there are many details still to be worked out. Prof Gasiorek observed that issues such as services, digital trade, public procurement and rules of origin all remained to be determined, and this will likely remain the case until the autumn, so it may be a while yet before the full implications become clear.