Australia 'keen for post-Brexit free trade deal with UK'

Brexit | 20 February 2018

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop has expressed interest in pursuing a new free trade agreement with the UK after it leaves the EU.


Australia would be open to pursuing a closer economic relationship and a new free trade agreement (FTA) with the UK after it leaves the EU.

This is according to Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop, who was speaking in London during an Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce event, and offered assurances that the two nations' longstanding trade and investment links could potentially be strengthened following Brexit.

Ms Bishop noted that Australia's trade relationship with the UK was damaged to some extent by Britain's entry to the European common market in 1973, resulting in a policy of export diversification in the years since. As such, the minister suggested that any future bilateral FTA with the UK would depend upon Britain ruling out rejoining the EU customs union.

She also expressed interest in establishing greater visa access between the UK and Australia, highlighting the reciprocal E3 visa arrangement the nation has with the US as a possible model for any future approach.

Ms Bishop said: "In this time of transition for the UK, I'm here to assure - perhaps reassure - you that Australia is a willing and trusted partner for the UK, and that we see many opportunities for our already close relationship to deepen and broaden in a post-Brexit world."

During the event, the Australian minister also welcomed the potential prospect of the UK becoming a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as the size of Britain's economy means it could make the pact more attractive in the wake of the US decision to withdraw from the agreement a year ago.

She added that the "evolving nature" of the TPP deal might help to tempt the US back to the negotiating table, as US president Donald Trump indicated that this might be a possibility during the recent World Economic Forum in Davos.