After five years of discussions between the Australian and British governments, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week announced an agreement in principle on the terms of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two country, see here.
This deal is as important for its historical symbolism as it is for its direct trade benefits, as it marks the first deal to be negotiated from scratch in the post-Brexit era for the UK government and further deepens bilateral relations between the two. nations. . The UK has entered into many other free trade agreements since leaving the EU legal framework, but all of them until now have been continuity agreements, to a very large extent mirroring the corresponding agreement. of the EU with this country from which the United Kingdom had previously benefited as an EU Member State. This Australian deal, on the other hand, has no parallel with the EU and therefore represents a tangible post-Brexit milestone for the concept of ‘Global Britain’.
In the days and months to come, the details of the tentative agreement will become clearer. The current Agreement-in-Principle document is expected to be over 1,200 pages long, so there is clearly a lot of detail to come. The deal is also an important step in paving the way for the UK’s smooth accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), one of the world’s largest economic zones, which the UK has officially requested from join and of which Australia is a key member.
The deal is due to go into effect in 2022. Dentons’ business and regulatory partners in the UK and Australia have prepared a summary of what we have learned so far and the main benefits of the deal for businesses and businesses. Australian and UK consumers.
Abolition of customs duties on goods
The deal will remove tariffs on £ 4.3bn of UK exports, with all Australian tariffs eliminated within 5 years and tariffs on cars, whiskey and major UK exports eliminated immediately, thus benefiting Australian consumers with cheaper products.
The deal will liberalize Australian imports into the UK with 99% of Australian products, including Australian wine, entering the UK duty-free when the deal goes into effect.
Tariffs on Australian beef and mutton imports into the UK will be eliminated after ten years. During the transition period, Australian exporters will have immediate access to a UK duty-free import quota for both products, which will gradually increase up to year 10. Over the following five years, a safeguard will apply to imports into the UK above an additional volume threshold. .
UK tariffs on Australian sugar will be eliminated over eight years and Australian tariffs on dairy products will be eliminated over five years.
Extension of youth mobility visas
British and Australian citizens under 35 will be able to travel and work in the other country for up to three years. Highly qualified professionals from both countries will now be able to work temporarily in Australia and the UK.
Innovation and digital arrangements
A unique innovation chapter in the world that will facilitate the free flow of data without the need to locate it. These provisions are in line with the digital economy provisions that exist in the CPTPP. The UK and Australia both intend to lower digital trade barriers and help Britons and Australians engage and benefit from the digital economy.
Mutual recognition of certain qualifications
The agreement will facilitate mutual recognition of certain professions, including lawyers, engineers, architects and other professionals. This creates opportunities for UK and Australian professionals to attract and retain global talent from both countries’ labor markets.
Improved access to Australian public procurement
UK companies will be able to bid on additional Australian government contracts with the most substantial level of access Australia has ever granted in a free trade agreement.
Strengthened cooperation on common challenges
The UK and Australia will cooperate closely in areas such as labor, animal welfare, gender equality and the environment. The agreement will also promote collaboration on challenges such as tackling climate change and unfair trade practices.
Supports the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership
As noted, this free trade agreement paves the way for the UK’s potential membership in the CPTPP, as part of a wider UK geopolitical move to focus on the Asia-Pacific region.
The CPTPP is a “deep” trade agreement that is more about governance arrangements for transnational trade in the region. This is a preferential trade agreement that sets the rules apart for those who are and are not members of the CPTPP. This is an important step towards rules-based regulatory oversight of global value chains, the importance of which continues to grow. However, without the provisions of this free trade agreement – leveling the playing field between the UK and existing CPTPP members – the UK’s entry into the CPTPP would be much more difficult.
This free trade agreement is therefore important because it recognizes the global nature of trade and the rules that apply to this global trade.