Australia ‘open’ to UK joining Pacific trade partnership

19 Feb 18

Australia has said it would be open to UK joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade group after Brexit.

The Asia-Pacific country’s foreign minister Julie Bishop said during her visit to the UK that Australia would only be able to make such a bilateral deal if London sticks to its plan to leave the EU’s customs union.

She said: “We would of course welcome interest from an economy the size of Britain’s.”

Bishop added: “Australia is very keen to pursue a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom. I think that would be precluded if the United Kingdom were to rejoin the customs union.”

When leaving the European bloc, the UK is free to pursue its own bilateral trade deals.

British trade minister Liam Fox said earlier this year that joining the partnership was an option for the UK after leaving the European Union.

Trade economists have said the UK is unlikely to make up for losses incurred by leaving the EU’s single market and customs union by striking bilateral trade deals with other countries.

The EU already has trade agreements in place or awaiting ratification with most of the countries part of the partnership.

The UK is Australia’s eighth biggest export market – worth a total of A$88bn to the economy in 2015. Although that only made up 2.8% of total exports and Australia imported A$14.4bn worth of goods from the UK in the same year.

The 11 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes countries like Japan, China, Mexico, Australia and Singapore, will sign their agreement in March.

The US pulled out of the group soon after Donald Trump was elected, but the president has said Washington might yet stay in.

In December, the EU and Japan formed an economic partnership, which is the world’s biggest bilateral trade agreement.

During her visit to China earlier this month, UK prime minister Theresa May agreed on deals worth more than £9.3bn with the Asian country, in attempts to deepening trade relations with nations around the world.


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