It is the first real free trade agreement obtained by the United Kingdom since Brexit. London signed a trade compromise with Australia on Thursday, December 16, which should open the doors to the Asia-Pacific region.
The agreement “Historical” ratified in a virtual ceremony was the subject of an agreement in principle in June between the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison. “The negotiators have now finalized all the chapters”, said the British Department for International Trade in a statement.
It is the first agreement obtained by London that is not simply a renewal or adaptation of those that exist between the European Union (EU) and other countries.
It will allow all British goods to enter Australia duty free. The text, which will be submitted to parliamentarians for consideration at Westminster, should generate “10.4 billion pounds [12,2 milliards d’euros] additional trade (…) by eliminating tariffs on 100% of [leurs] exports’.
Trade between the two countries amounted to £ 13.9 billion in 2020, just over 1% of total UK trade. But London hopes this deal will be a game-changer.
It establishes “New global standards in digital and services, will create new work and travel opportunities for Brits and Australians”, underlines the British government. The United Kingdom boasts a text “Tailor-made for the UK economy”, especially in areas where the country is “A world leader, like technology and digital”.
British professionals in the service sector, including architects, lawyers or researchers, will have access to work visas in Australia. “This is more than Australia has ever offered to any other country in a free trade agreement”, welcomes the Ministry of International Trade.
Join the trans-Pacific trade treaty
This compromise “Boosts our chances of joining the Trans-Pacific Trade Treaty (CPTPP)”, which brings together eleven countries in America and Asia and weighs “8,400 billion pounds in GDP”. The president of the CBI employers’ organization, Karan Bilimorian, welcomed an agreement “Complete and modern”, Who “Opens new frontiers for British companies”.
The United Kingdom has already obtained agreements with the EU, by far its largest trading partner, Japan, New Zealand or even with European countries that are not members of the EU – Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. .
The country is in talks with India and launched negotiations for a free trade agreement with the six Gulf Arab countries in early October. It is also seeking to strengthen its commercial ties with the United States, without having been able to obtain a promise from Washington for the time being.
Boris Johnson had called for leaving the EU on promising the UK would have more economic potential going it alone, touting his concept of « Global Britain », Where “Planetary Britain”.
An agreement denounced by Greenpeace
The NGO Greenpeace, for its part, deplored an agreement to the text “Not yet published” and who will have “Not only one of the worst impacts on the climate but with a country which is one of the main world centers of deforestation”. According to the NGO, the agreement goes against the environmental objectives of the United Kingdom, which aims for carbon neutrality by 2050.
During negotiations between the two countries, the British agricultural sector was also worried about competition from Australian products, such as beef and lamb, which are cheaper with more industrial farming with more flexible health standards.
To reassure breeders, London had indicated that the text would provide for a limit on imports into British soil without customs duties for fifteen years, notably through quotas. But the British government did not provide details on the agricultural component in its statement on Thursday.
London and Canberra had indicated that they wanted to deepen their cooperation also on the security aspect, as evidenced by the partnership concluded between the United States, called Aukus, which triggered the anger of Paris by de facto canceling a contract for the purchase of French submarines worth 55 billion euros with the Australians.
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UK, Australia ratify post-Brexit free trade deal