Monday, 18 February 2019
Latest news
Main » Australia dashes hopes of swift trade deal

Australia dashes hopes of swift trade deal

08 September 2016
Australia dashes hopes of swift trade deal

"A free trade deal with Australia or New Zealand may be beneficial for some United Kingdom industries but could have a catastrophic effect on United Kingdom sheep farmers and we cannot sit back and be sacrificed for the benefit of others".

In a joint statement Mr Fox and Mr Ciobo said: "We want the working group to advance an agenda that will ensure the expeditious transition to free trade agreement negotiations when the United Kingdom has formally completed its negotiations to exit the European Union".

Mr Ciobo's comments come as over 200,000 people put their name to petitions urging the government to seek free movement agreements with Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The Australian British Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) welcomed a step forward in the future of Australian-British trade relations following Wednesday's announcement of a bilateral Trade Working Group between the two countries. Those will run parallel to trade discussions between the United Kingdom and Australia: A working group of senior officials is expected to gather in early 2017 and meet twice a year.

The BBC says Australia has been earmarked by Whitehall as the UK's first post-Brexit trade partner.

Fox and Ciobo said: "This initiative reflects a strong political commitment by Australia and the United Kingdom to take a leadership role in advocating for global trade liberalisation and reform".

On Monday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that Ciobo would visit the United Kingdom later in the week for exploratory discussions on the general outline of a trade deal that would take shape between the two countries after the UK exit from the European bloc.

Turnbull met with his United Kingdom counterpart, Theresa May, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China.

Perhaps most significantly in the short term, the prospect of a deal with Australia is hugely symbolic for Mrs May's new Conservative government.

Mr Ciobo is now in London to discuss a possible free trade deal Mr Fox and said "there has been a good alignment" so far. "We are happy to provide whatever support we can", he said. The timing around that will in many respects be dictating by the UK.

The first meeting will take place in Australia next year but no formal agreement can be signed until after the United Kingdom has negotiated its exit from the EU.

He refused to be drawn on specifics of a free trade deal, saying it was too early to talk about "which sectors might have to make what sacrifices".

Mr Ciobo said an eventual deal could be struck "quite quickly", because of Australia's close historic and cultural ties with the United Kingdom, but added: "You would expect it's at least two and a half years off".

Mr Ciobo will use talks in Brussels later this week with his European Union counterpart Cecilia Malmstrom to draw closer to formal negotiations.