Report on Potential Benefits of an Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement
The webinar was chaired by Peter Draper, Executive Director of the Institute for International Trade at The University of Adelaide and Richard Pomfret, Jean Monnet Chair, gave a background presentation. Over 80 viewers from across the world joined the webinar.
The two negotiators emphasized the like-mindedness of the UK and Australia when it came to international trade, implying that an agreement could be reached speedily. However, such aspirations, welcome as they are, need to be put in context of modern trade negotiations. The latter typically take longer to negotiate than tariff reduction FTAs due to the increased complexity of the issues at hand. Thus it was no surprise that in the discussion’s Q&A, issues related to agricultural trade, migration and foreign investment arose which highlighted how negotiations could be delayed if they became too detailed. Although helpful here was that both parties commented on the CPTPP as a useful forum for agreeing on WTO+ issues.
From an Australian perspective DFAT have made clear they seek “an ambitious and comprehensive FTA with the UK that drives increased trade in goods and services, two-way investment, economic growth and job creation.” Areas of focus here include services, digital trade, goods, investment, high quality rules and ease of doing business, all of which are central to a 21st century economy and will benefit both parties, given their ‘advanced economy’ status. Ultimately, finding a balance between quality and depth versus getting a deal done in a reasonable amount of time will be the challenge for both sides.
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