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Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement

Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations: Frequently Asked Questions – August 2022

What is the state of play in the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement? When will it enter into force?

The Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement was signed during a virtual ceremony on 17 December 2021. The Agreement was then tabled in Parliament on 8 February 2022, triggering the next step in the legal and parliamentary processes for the Agreement, including consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT).

The Agreement will enter into force after the completion of domestic legal and parliamentary processes by both countries. Australia and the UK will then provide each other with confirmation of their completion through an exchange of diplomatic notes, and the Agreement will enter into force 30 days later, or on any other date that is mutually agreed.

Why is a free trade agreement with the UK important for Australia?

An Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement will build on our existing strengths in two-way trade and investment, support our post-COVID economic recovery and signal our shared commitment to global trade liberalisation and a rules-based international order.

The free trade agreement with the UK will deepen our trade and investment relationship for the benefit of Australian businesses and consumers. It also provides an opportunity to explore ways to build on our deep and historic people-to-people links, such as youth mobility exchanges, to ensure the benefits of deeper Australia-UK economic cooperation are distributed as widely as possible.

Will Australia and the UK allow free movement of people in the Free Trade Agreement?

The UK and Australia have agreed commitments that will result in unprecedented changes to existing Youth Mobility Schemes. These changes include making them available to nationals no older than 35 for a total stay of up to three years, without having to undertake specified work including regional work, for example on a farm. The change will be introduced within two years after entry into force to monitor any impact on the agriculture sector and ensure alternative workforce opportunities are in place.

Australia and the UK have also agreed to other mobility initiatives which provide opportunities to build even stronger people-to-people links and improve collaboration and skills transfer between our countries. This includes a new Innovation and Early Career Skills Exchange Pilot visa. This visa will facilitate the movement of UK citizens to Australia for both recent graduates and highly experienced and skilled citizens across all sectors with a demonstrated contribution to innovation.

Will Australia see more backpackers from the UK and vice-versa under the Free Trade Agreement?

Australia and the UK have agreed to measures that should see more backpackers from the UK visiting Australia and vice versa, including by raising the age limit and balancing the opportunity for three year stays in both countries. Backpackers contribute significantly to each of our economies, including to tourism.

How will the Free Trade Agreement support Australian professional service providers?

Australia's world-leading professionals – including our lawyers, accountants, engineers, and architects – stand to benefit from ambitious commitments that will strengthen two-way trade in professional services. Australia and the UK have agreed to establish a best practice framework to improve the two-way movement of professionals. This includes provisions to support mutual recognition of professional qualifications, licensing and registratino, as well as a specific work program between legal peak bodies to further streamline and guarantee easier access for lawyers between Australia and the UK.

Does the Free Trade Agreement include an investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism?

No, the free trade agreement does not include an ISDS mechanism.

Does the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement constrain the operation of Australia's foreign investment framework?

No. The free trade agreement preserves Australia's right to screen investments in the national interest.

Does the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement include Geographical Indications?

The free trade agreement contains a commitment that both countries will return to the issue of geographical indications after the UK and EU FTA have both come into force. If Australia agrees to protect EU GIs under a new Australian GIs system, then the UK can put forward its GIs for potential protection subject to Australia's legal procedures. Australia will provide the UK no less favourable treatment on geographical indications than that provided to the EU.

Does the free trade agreement include intellectual property rights?

The free trade agreement includes commitments in support of our vibrant creative sectors, including high standard provisions on copyright, designs and the enforcement of intellectual property rights online. Australia has agreed to make all reasonable efforts to join the UK as a member of the multilateral Hague Agreement on Industrial Designs which will provide new benefits for designers in both countries. Australian artists who market their works overseas will also benefit from an agreement to expand reciprocity arrangements for resale rights.

What have Australia and the UK agreed in the free trade negotiations with respect to climate change and other environment issues?

The free trade agreement includes commitments relating to a number of environment issues, consistent with the related outcomes in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. As part of the negotiations, both countries identified a number of areas for future cooperation including on low emissions technologies, clean growth and environmental goods and services.

Are provisions on animal welfare included in the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement?

Australia and the UK have agreed to the inclusion of provisions in the free trade agreement that facilitate bilateral cooperation on animal welfare issues.

Where can I find more information?

Email the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Coordination Team at ukfta@dfat.gov.au.

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