Australia ‘optimistic’ for ‘ambitious’ free trade deal with UK

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Australian High Commissioner to the UK has told talkRADIO that his government is “full of optimism” in engaging with Britain in post-Brexit trade negotiations.

George Brandis said that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s visit to Australia last week left politicians keen for an “ambitious and high value” free trade agreement between the two countries.

He told Julia Hartley-Brewer that Brits need to “rediscover” their optimism.

“This is a time for a new dawn and with a new dawn for the United Kingdom is a time for optimism, not to be fearful, not to cower, not to be in a mind-set that thinks that the world stops and the North Atlantic stops at the borders of Europe.”

Mr Brandis added: “There is a whole big wide world out there for Britain to reengage with and we Australians look forward to engaging with you.”

Boris Johnson set his sights on Australia in a speech on global trade last week, as well has countries such as Japan, New Zealand and Canada.

The Prime Minister also signalled his continued ambition to strike a deal with the US, telling the “naïve and juvenile anti-Americans” to “grow up and get a grip”.

With regards to Brussels, Mr Johnson suggested that the UK could be prepared to accept an Australian-style relationship with the EU without a formal trade deal.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she was “surprised” by the proposition, pointing out that Australia is currently in talks with the EU to improve its current agreement with the bloc.

Ms Von der Leyen said the UK and EU should be “way more ambitious” about reaching a full trade deal.

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