The UK has left the EU and negotiations for Australia-UK FTA could start soon

February 3, 2020: The UK officially left the EU on 31 January and news reports over the weekend suggest that the UK government plans to begin official trade negotiations with non-EU countries quickly.

There have been suggestions that an Australian free trade agreement with the UK could be completed by the end of the year and Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has stated that Australia is “at or near the very front of the queue” in upcoming trade negotiations and that we are “ready to roll as soon as they are happy to begin the process.”

However, the UK will have to manage negotiations with the EU and US, which will likely slow progress in the negotiations.

There have also been reports in the media that the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement could restricted to tariff and quota issues or limited to beef and wine. However, the DFAT website lists 13 issues that are likely to be under negotiation:

  • goods market access (tariffs and quotas)
  • biosecurity and food safety issues
  • regulatory issues
  • customs procedures
  • cross-border trade in services
  • financial services
  • investment, including investor-state dispute settlement
  • government procurement
  • intellectual property, including geographical indications
  • barriers to trade in emerging and innovative industries e.g, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, IT incubators
  • movement of persons
  • competition policy
  • sustainable development

DFAT is calling for submissions addressing these issues. Submissions can be made prior to the commencement of official negotiations. More information about the Australia-UK FTA and the submission process is available on the DFAT website.

AFTINET will make a submission addressing the human rights and environmental risks of trade rules and calling for transparency throughout the negotiations.