Australia, UK Form Joint Trade Group

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

07 September 2016

The Australian and UK Governments have announced the establishment of a bilateral trade working group that will “focus on scoping out the parameters of a future ambitious and comprehensive Australia-UK free trade agreement (FTA).”

The announcement was made by the UK’s International Trade Minister, Liam Fox, and his Australian counterpart, Steven Ciobo. Ciobo was in London to “explore ways to enhance Australia’s economic ties with the UK.”

In a joint statement, the ministers said: “We want the working group to advance an agenda that will ensure the expeditious transition to FTA negotiations when the UK has formally completed its negotiations to exit the EU. Both of us want a future FTA to generate new trade and investment opportunities. We will prioritize consultation and outreach to our respective stakeholders to seek their input to the work of the working group.”

The group will also consider a range of trade policy issues, including World Trade Organisation (WTO) processes and current and prospective plurilateral negotiations. The ministers will meet twice annually to review the group’s progress. The first meeting will take place in Australia in early 2017.

Speaking after his meeting with Fox, Ciobo told reporters: “In my conversations we canvassed what our future relationship might look like following the UK’s exit from the European Union. I think it’s safe to say that there’s a very strong political alignment, a very fervent belief that trade is good for both economies and understanding that through solid trade agreements we can reach win-win outcomes that are good for the UK and good for Australia, and understanding that we’re able to take this relationship forward. What we’re looking at is how exactly we’ll go about doing that. Today’s conversations were an important marker.”

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