UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement

United Kingdom-Australia free Trade Agreement

Negotiations  for a UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement were launched in June, 2020  and continued in 2021 following the UK Brexit agreement with the EU.  

The initial  2020 AFTINET submission  is here.

Australia was seeking more market access for its agricultural and services exports, and the danger is that longer medicine monopolies or other negative deregulatory concessions may be traded off to gain these. The UK is also seeking to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP) which is being used as a model by both governments, and includes Investor rights to sue governments  (ISDS). In June 2O21 the two governments announced an agreement in principle and confirmed that ISDS has been excluded.  This was a victory for  community campaigning.

The full text was not released until after it was signed on December 17, 2021.

AFTINET's initial  media release after the text was released called for an independent assessment for the costs and benefits of the economic, environmental, health and gender impacts of the agreement, 

AFTINET has analysed the 32 chapters  of the text and made a submission to the review by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.


Key recommendations include:

  • Comprehensive independent economic, environmental, health and gender impact assessments should be completed and made public before the enabling legislation and ratification of the A-UKFTA.
  • Australia should ensure that any regional trade deals that may include the UK (for example, the CPTPP) should maintain the A-UKFTA’s exclusion of corporate rights to sue governments (ISDS).
  • The Environment and Labour Chapters should be strengthened to ensure they are just as legally enforceable as other chapters.
  • All commitments on labour rights, modern slavery and gender discrimination should be made hard commitments that are legally enforceable.
  • Increased commitments made on trade in services and government procurement that could undermine government’s ability to regulate in the public interest should be reviewed and removed
  • The entry of temporary workers should be based on the principle that they address genuine labour shortages evidenced by local labour market testing. Therefore, the government should revoke the removal of labour market testing for uncapped numbers of certain types of workers.

Media Release: Australia-UK free trade deal: advocates warn of hidden traps on pandemic vaccine monopolies and urge independent cost-benefit analysis

December 17, 2021: After 18 months of secretive negotiations, Trade Ministers from Australia and the UK today signed the Australia-UK FTA and released the text of the agreement. Fair trade advocates are demanding an independent assessment o f costs and benefits before it is ratified, as recommended by the parliamentary committee that reviews trade agreements.

Publication of Australia-UK FTA Agreement in Principle and exclusion of ISDS welcome, but still much we don’t know

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                            

June 18, 2021

“We welcome the fact that the Australian and UK governments have responded to community concerns about secrecy and yesterday published the Agreement in-Principle (AIP) for the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement,” Dr Patricia Ranald, AFTINET Convenor, said today.

UK Australia FTA announcement hides possible nasties on corporate rights and medicine monopolies in secret deal

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                            

June 15, 2021

“The announcement of ‘in-principle’ agreement for an Australia-UK free trade agreement continues the unacceptable government secrecy about the details of the agreement,” Dr Patricia Ranald, AFTINET Convenor said today.