Earlier this month, ATA Director of Policy, Satyajeet Marar and Research Associate, Alex Cullen appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to offer evidence on the future of Australia’s trading relationship with a United Kingdom set to embrace its future in the post-Brexit era.
The ATA has strongly advocated expedient negotiations with the United Kingdom in order to secure a mutually beneficial trade deal and believes that Australians stand to benefit immensely from free trade and movement arrangements with Canada, New Zealand and the UK.
Alex, who was the author of the ATA submission, noted that the people and businesses of the UK have a lot to gain from a trade deal with Australia, given that a deal could be negotiated without many of the burdensome and sometimes draconian rules, regulations and restrictions which currently apply under European Union laws. With the imminent loss of the EU’s single market, it is in British interests to negotiate with Australia, offering our government the opportunity to seek favourable terms for our businesses, workers and investors.
The opportunity to live and work freely in the United Kingdom, once seen as a rite of passage for ambitious young Australians, could soon be set to return – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for potential opportunities a deal could hold for our businesses and consumers.
“We believe it is important for the Australian government to be providing clarity and certainty to investors and businesses about the nature of Australia-UK trade conditions post-Brexit… we can also open up new opportunities that have been difficult to access under attempts to negotiate a free trade agreement with the European Union… for example, the imposition of anti-dumping duties upon Italian tomato growers, and the fact that the European Union relies on heavy subsidisation of those industries, allowing them to export heavily to other markets in a way that hurts Australian tomato growers such as SPC.” Said Alex.
“When the UK leaves, and we do not to have try to negotiate with 20-plus countries who have come together for a common cause but we negotiate with one country—the United Kingdom—a range of new opportunities will open up for manufacturers, for our agricultural industry and for other industries such as education, tourism and pharmaceuticals.”
Alex and Satya went on to note that the beneficial synergies of a free trade relationship also hold true for a potential economic union and free movement area between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain. Compatible synergies such as common cultural values and history, similar regulations, a common ‘common law’ legal system, comparable standards of living and work etc. would not only enhance the benefits of a deal, but would also make negotiations a more practical, efficient and politically favourable process. Australia’s rural and regional economy also stands to benefit from a potential influx of seasonal workers who not only provide much-needed labour, but contribute by spending their earnings at local establishments including hotels, bars, supermarkets, casinos and more.
The ATA also addressed the claim that the UK cannot legally negotiate with Australia until it has formally exited the EU. Pointing to the opinions of renowned legal experts such as Dr. Peers, professor of EU law at the University of Essex, and the UK government’s own legal advice, Satya noted that the European Court of Justice had never applied the EU’s sole competence for a member state’s trade policy power to agreements coming into effect only once a country is no longer a member state of the EU. It is also possible that pursuing the approach of preventing the UK from negotiating its post-Brexit future puts the EU in contravention of its own charter’s objective to promote good neighbourliness and cooperation, and to respect the sovereignty of its geographic neighbours.
We hope that the Australian government will act expediently to seize this important opportunity for Australians by initiating negotiations on a potential trade and movement deal with the UK.
The ATA submission to the hearing can be viewed here.
The transcript of the hearing will be available here.
Satyajeet Marar is the Director of Policy at the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance. He can be followed on Facebook.