ASHLEIGH GILLON: The Trade Minister Steve Ciobo says the ideal day to begin formal negotiations on a trade deal with the UK is the day Brexit is scheduled to take place, which is March 30th 2019. It comes after a meeting with the UK's Trade Secretary in London, and as President Donald Trump continues to tighten the US trade policy. Sky News reporter Aaron Young is in London. He spoke with the Trade Minister.

AARON YOUNG: Steve Ciobo, thank you so much for your time. How did the meeting go?

STEVEN CIOBO: Look, a really constructive meeting. The UK and Australia continue to have really constructive and important discussions about where we can take our bilateral relationship. Both the UK and Australia want to have a high quality, comprehensive trade deal between the two of us. We of course have got strong historical roots. Secretary Liam Fox and I have a really constructive, good working relationship, and we're both very focused on getting a high quality deal.

AARON YOUNG: The EU of course and Brexit a huge issue for Secretary Fox at the moment, how can Australia help post-Brexit?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well we want to make sure that we can put in place a high quality deal because we know that as we reduce barriers to trade and investment that drives economic growth, and economic growth drives jobs. That's what as a Government, the Coalition is very focused on doing. Now understandably as the UK moves even closer towards formally exiting the European Union there's all questions around that for the UK, and indeed for the European Union, but I'm focused on making sure that the day after they've commenced that process, that Australia's there to commence negotiations for a high quality deal.

AARON YOUNG: And so what sort of things would you like?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well we want to have as comprehensive and broad based trade deal as we possibly can. We have got strong historical roots, we already have a very broad investment relationship between Australia and the UK, and I am very firmly aspirational that we can do a good quality deal with the UK, and I know that Liam Fox holds a similar view to me, which will mean that for both of our economies, it means fewer barriers to trade, more trade, more investment, that means more economic growth and more jobs

AARON YOUNG: We are having this conversation in the face of a pretty difficult time for free trade. We know the United States and China for two. How do you think that, I guess your relationship with Secretary Fox is important, given that?

STEVEN CIOBO: This is a great opportunity for Australia and the UK to, in many respects, be the torchbearers when it comes to liberalised trade investment. You know, both of our countries have been built off the back of engagement with the world through trade. Australia is a terrific trading nation. We have so many jobs that are reliant on the trade that we undertake as a country. We've even seen a large share of Australia's GDP growth being driven by growth in exports. Recognising that, and recognizing the importance of trade, to not only boosting the lifestyles of people in the city but also helping the lifestyles of people in country areas, those that export agricultural products for example. This is all critical to making sure Australia is strong, our economy is strong, and that we're creating employment opportunities for young Aussies.

AARON YOUNG: Are you concerned though, given the rhetoric between China and the United States, and Australia's relationship with both of those countries from a trade perspective, that we may have to choose? We might find our situation gets a bit more difficult.

STEVEN CIOBO: Look people know Australia's a pragmatic country. We are principled, they know where they stand with Australia. We're consistent, that matters a lot. So in terms of Australia's engagement, whether it's with China, with Korea, with Japan, with the UK, with the EU, or indeed with the US, we have always been a true friend in terms of our engagement and we've been consistent, and I think that's what matters.

AARON YOUNG: But we have a President at the moment who seems to be pushing for protectionism, in some regards, as we know with steel and then obviously pulling out of the TPP. So how do we deal with a President like that?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well it's my job to pursue Australia's national interests, so you asked about for example the US decision to withdraw from the TPP. We were disappointed but not surprised when they took that decision. From Australia's perspective though, we knew that it was in our national interest to pursue the TPP. That's precisely why the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Abe from Japan really pushed ahead with the TPP-11, and now we've got a high quality deal, 11 countries that have come together, $13.7 trillion of economic activity, all geared towards reducing barriers to trade investment, driving economic growth, and driving jobs.

AARON YOUNG: The news from the Australian Cricket Team, obviously concerns about that from your perspective? Obviously when we look towards Australia's reputation overseas it's pretty important.

STEVEN CIOBO: Well I think most Aussies recognise that the only thing more important than winning in sport is actually being recognised as being someone who is a sportsman, who has a solid reputation and people know that they're a straight shooter. So this has unfortunately really had an impact on that reputation. Cricket Australia's going to follow due process and that's important, but it's also clear that there should be strong decisive action taken, if that due process warrants it.

AARON YOUNG:  Steve Ciobo thanks for your time.

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