G20 Summit: Theresa May boosted by Australia trade prospect as she takes on for difficult China talks

The Prime Minister has used her first international summit to try and calm Brexit fears

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Monday 05 September 2016 06:31 BST
The Prime Minister and Chancellor Philip Hammond at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou
The Prime Minister and Chancellor Philip Hammond at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou

The Australian Prime Minister has given Theresa May a boost at the G20 summit by saying he wants a "very strong, very open" trade deal with the UK.

Malcom Turnbull made the comments after a bilateral meeting with Mrs May, following which she confirmed Australia would be among the first nations the UK would seek a trade agreement with.

It comes as Mrs May has a crucial meeting with President Xi of China, when she will have to explain delays to the £18 billion Hinkley nuclear power station scheme in which the Chinese are heavily invested, and after President Obama signalled the UK was still at "the back of the queue" for US trade talks.

The Prime Minister has also had a difficult meeting with Vladimir Putin in which she is said to have rebuffed Russian overtures for improvements in trade relations with the United Kingdom.

After this morning's bilateral, Australian leader Mr Turnbull said the talks had been about, "getting in to deal with the British early and making sure we can negotiate a very strong, very open trade agreement once they are out of the Euroepan Union."

Mrs May said afterwards: "We want to be even more outward looking around the whole of the world. And, obviously, Australia, with our longstanding ties and our close relationship will be one of the first countries we'll be looking to."

Australia is also providing technical assistance and advice to the UK in how to manage trade talks with other countries.

Theresa May warns that Brexit won't be plain sailing

It is unlikely that much of the UK's new know-how will be employed with the US after Barack Obama said that both the EU TTIP talks and Pacific focused TPP agreement will take precedence over any new UK deal.

The Indepenedent understands that Pesident Putin of Russia used a bilateral with Mrs May to test the ground for a thawing in the trade relationship with the UK, but was told it was unlikely while the situation in Syria remained poor.

Mr Putin has been a crucial backer of Bashar Assad's regime in the war-torn country, where government forces were recently accused by the UN of deploying deadly chemical weapons.

On Sunday it was confirmed that security is one of the issues concerning officials reviewing the agreement around the Hinkley nuclear power project. China is providing some £6 billion for the two-reactor French led scheme, which could then lead to a further Chinese designed reactor being built at Bradwell, Essex.

One of Mrs May's most senior advisors, Nick Timothy, has previously raised concerns about Chinese investment in infrastructure projects of strategic significance. A decision on Hinkley is expected later this month.

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