Consultation on trade negotiations with Australia

Closes 26 Oct 2018

Opened 20 Jul 2018

Overview

The UK is preparing for an independent trade policy once we leave the EU. We want to maximise our trade opportunities globally and across all countries – both by boosting our trading relationships with old friends and new allies, and by seeking a deep and special partnership with the EU. The UK aims to pursue an ambitious bilateral trade agenda, taking full advantage of the flexibility provided by our proposal for the future economic partnership (as set out in the White Paper on 'The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union' on 12 July).

As part of this the UK will have the opportunity to negotiate, sign, and ratify Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) during the implementation period and to bring them into force from January 2021. These agreements can enable increased trade and investment, secure access for UK exporters to the key markets of today and the future, give consumers access to a greater range of products at lower prices, and make the UK more innovative, competitive and prosperous.

Trade agreements aim to reduce trade barriers between countries. Barriers can be taxes charged on goods as they cross borders (tariffs), or different rules and regulations that can add to trade costs (non-tariff measures). Trade and investment barriers make it more difficult and costly to trade or invest overseas. Reducing these barriers can help the flow of goods, services and money for investment between countries, and help businesses to access markets they previously weren’t able to. Consumers can benefit from access to a greater variety of products at lower prices. 

Trade agreements do not prevent governments from regulating as they see fit, and they also do not require governments to privatise any services. The UK Government is committed to maintaining our high standards for consumers, workers and the environment, and to protecting our public services, in any future trade agreements that we conclude.   

Trade agreements also have wider benefits. These can include:

  • Boosting economic growth in the UK by encouraging more competition, investment and innovation.
  • Contributing to global prosperity, by boosting economic growth in countries that the UK does business with through international supply chains.
  • Increased global prosperity supports social cohesion within and between countries, and in turn political stability, which is one of the building blocks of our collective security.
  • Some trade agreements can particularly benefit developing countries – trade can be a vital tool in boosting developing countries’ economic growth and reducing poverty, while also providing UK consumers and businesses with goods at competitive prices.
  • Trade is also an instrument of foreign policy and some countries use trade policy (including trade agreements) to advance standards and values.

The Department for International Trade is preparing for possible negotiations with Australia after the UK leaves the EU on the 29th March 2019. The UK Government is consulting with members of the public, businesses, trade experts, and any other interested organisations to help inform this work.  

This initial consultation will inform our overall approach to our future trade relationship with Australia. If we launch formal negotiations with Australia, we will also engage on specific issues as negotiations progress.

Trade with Australia 

Australia is an important partner, and one with which the UK has a deep shared heritage, built on the foundations of democratic values, the rule of law, sport and culture. We are both active supporters of the international rules-based system and the UK works closely with Australia in many multilateral forums including the United Nations, G20, WTO and the Commonwealth. Many UK businesses already view Australia as an attractive base for their regional operations, and Australia’s connections in Asia makes it an excellent partner for the UK to launch into a region which stands to deliver nearly two thirds of global growth to 2030. Together we have the opportunity to develop a gold standard trade agreement. Trade between the UK and Australia was worth £13.1 billion in 2016, with two-way Foreign Direct Investment stocks between both countries valued at over £52 billion in the same year. A UK - Australia free trade agreement would aim to build on our existing trade and investment relationship, benefiting both economies – whilst ensuring that we meet our international obligations and maintain our high standards of consumer, labour, animal and environmental protection. 

The UK Government has published an information pack to be read in conjunction with this consultation: Information note on Australia

This pack explains the rationale for free trade agreements, the provisions they typically cover, and gives an overview of current UK-Australia trade and investment. 

Please note, this consultation will close at 23:59 on 26 October 2018.

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