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. . Australia was seeking more market access for its agricultural and services exports. and the danger was that longer medicine monopolies or other negative deregulatory concessions might be traded off to gain these.

The UK was also seeking to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CPTPP)  included Investor rights to sue governments (ISDS). 


Lack of labour and environment commitments in India-UK FTA rings alarm bells for future India-Australia deal

24 October, 2023: It seems increasingly likely that the UK and India will sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by the end of October. However, the agreement is reported to not contain legally enforceable commitments on labour rights or environmental standards, possibly indicating similar deficiencies in the upcoming India-Australia FTA.

British Medical Journal warns of health impacts of UK membership of CPTPP

April 18, 2023: At the end of March, the 11 members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreed to admit the UK to the deal, but the text of the conditions of entry will not become public until after it is signed later this year. There is widespread criticism of this move in the UK, and the British Journal of Medicine has spelt out the concerns on public health.

Campaign victory: Australia and the UK agree not to apply ISDS in Trans-Pacific deal

April 4, 2023: Foreign investor rights to sue government (Investor-State Dispute Settlement - ISDS), which was excluded from the recent Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement, will not apply between Australia and the UK when the UK joins the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Labor government must act to prevent British companies suing the Australian government using the CPTPP

April 3, 2023: Australia’s Trade Minister Senator Don Farrell announced on March 31 that negotiations for the United Kingdom to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) were substantially concluded but that a draft Accession Protocol treaty instrument still had to be finalised.

Australian Agriculture Minister flies to London as Lords debate the Australia – UK FTA

January 17, 2023: Australian Agriculture Minister Senator Murray Watt flew to London this week to shore up support for the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement, which is being debated in the UK parliament and is still to be ratified by the Sunak Conservative Government.

Minister Watts tweeted: “I’m in London & Berlin to advocate for Aus ag. With National Farmers President Fiona Simson in a joint Govt-industry push for: ratification of the Aus-UK FTA; a good deal in the Aus-EU FTA & promotion of Australia’s sustainable ag credentials.”

AFTINET impacts Parliamentary Reports on the A-UK FTA and India agreement: legislation passed

November 22, 2022: Enabling legislation for the Australia-UK FTA (AUKFTA) and the Interim Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AIECTA) was tabled in parliament on October 27 and was passed on November 22. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) Report on the AUKFTA was tabled on November 17 and the Interim India JSCOT Report on November 18, leaving  little time for them to be considered by parliament. The government made statements urging the quick passage of the legislation. Both reports recommended in favour of the enabling legislation, but they reflected some of AFTINET’s concerns. See our JSCOT submissions here and here.

Our preference was for these issues to be addressed before the enabling legislation, but failing this we have asked the government to address these issues in the reviews of the AUKFTA which are scheduled in the next two years, and in the negotiations for a more comprehensive Economic and Trade Cooperation Agreement with India which is due to be negotiated next year.

Transform Trade reports expose British companies suing developing countries

Thursday October 13, 2022: The UK-based Transform Trade - People centred trade report and its associated legal research report – Foreign Investment, Human Rights and the Climate in the UK – Asymmetric Legal Protection – hit two powerful themes – people’s action is transforming international trade and can do much more; and British law enables British corporations to cruelly exploit ISDS in bilateral investment agreements for super profits.