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Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement

Benefits for Digital Trade Businesses and Consumers

The rapid rise of technology and digitisation is transforming the global economy and creating new opportunities for businesses and consumers.

Backing smarter business

The Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA) reflects Australia's leadership in digital trade rules by laying down ambitious, modern commitments that reduce digital trade barriers and assist Australians to engage with, and benefit from, the digital economy.

Australia and the United Kingdom have agreed to ambitious commitments that increase opportunities for digital trade across the economy, while also ensuring world-leading standards for personal data protection.

The A-UKFTA facilitates digital trade by addressing restrictive practices such as requirements for paper-based trade administration documents through a commitment to accept electronic contracts, except in specific circumstances.

The agreement has also set out the joint aim to establish interoperable electronic invoicing frameworks and ensure that electronic transactions regulations are implemented in a manner consistent with international frameworks.

The agreement prevents Australia and the UK from prohibiting or restricting, subject to legitimate public policy objectives, the cross-border transfer of information by electronic means. This includes agreement not to impose customs.

The agreement also prohibits requiring a business to use or locate computing facilities in a Party's territory as a condition for conducting business.

The A-UKFTA focuses on the need to protect sensitive information held by businesses engaged in digital trade. The agreement prevents requirements for the transfer of, or access to, source code of software originating from the other country as a condition for its distribution or use.

The agreement provides that no manufacturer or supplier of a product that uses cryptography can be compelled to provide proprietary information, enter a partnership, or integrate a particular cipher or algorithm relating to that product's cryptography as a condition of its sale or distribution.

Australia and the UK have sought to create an environment that enables and supports experimentation. The A-UKFTA recognises that regulatory sandboxes can unlock data innovation. The agreement promotes collaboration on data-sharing projects and in the development of policies and standards for data mobility. This is bolstered by the establishment of a new Strategic Innovation Dialogue, bringing together Australia and the UK's world-leading businesses, universities and research agencies.

The A-UKFTA is Australia's first trade agreement to contain a chapter dedicated to innovation.

Protecting and empowering consumers

Australia and the UK have also deepened cooperation to protect digital consumers and build trust in the online trading environment. This includes provisions to protect personal information and limit unsolicited commercial electronic messages or spam.

The A-UKFTA promotes cooperation between the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the UK's consumer protection agencies, including to promote awareness and accessibility of redress mechanisms for consumers of the other country's products.

The A-UKFTA supports better digital governance. As part of the agreement, Australia and the UK have committed to open internet access, open government data and to sharing their experiences in digital government.

Our governments will actively participate in international fora, such as through e-commerce negotiations at the World Trade Organization, and work together to develop international frameworks and standards.

While digital trade presents enormous benefits, it also brings new challenges. Our countries recognise the importance of enhancing the cybersecurity of businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises.

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