Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations: Frequently Asked Questions – June 2021
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What is the state of play in the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations? What is the Agreement in Principle?
Five negotiating rounds have been held since Australia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) launched negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) on 17 June 2020. On 15 June 2021, Prime Ministers Morrison and Johnson announced the core elements that will be included in the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement. The basis for this announcement was a document named the Agreement in Principle. Further negotiations are required to finalise the text of the agreement to ensure it reflects the core elements agreed by Prime Ministers. After the negotiations conclude, Australia and the UK will need to undertake further steps consistent with our respective treaty making procedures before the free trade agreement enters into force.
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.
A free trade agreement with the UK has the potential to 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.
When will the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement negotiations be concluded?
Australia and the UK are seeking to conclude negotiations on a high-quality and comprehensive free trade agreement as quickly as possible, without compromising on quality or ambition.
When will goods market access outcomes be announced in full?
The Agreement in Principle contains a summary of agreed goods market access outcomes. Full details will be released when the free trade agreement is concluded.
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 3 years, without having to undertake specified work including regional work, for example on a farm. The change will be introduced within 5 years to monitor any impact on the agriculture sector and ensure alternative workforce opportunities are in place.
Australia and the UK are continuing in the negotiations to work on further initiatives to provide opportunities to build even stronger people-to people links and improve collaboration and skills transfer between our countries.
Will Australia see more backpackers from the UK and vice-versa under the Free Trade Agreement?
As part of the negotiations, 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, 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.
Will the Free Trade Agreement include an investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism?
No. The Government decides on the inclusion of ISDS on a case-by-case basis in light of national interest, including the protection of Australian investors overseas. Our view is that the UK and Australia, as two well governed countries with a strong investment relationship, sound domestic legal systems and a strong commitment to the rule of law do not need ISDS in this agreement.
Will the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement constrain the operation of Australia's foreign investment framework?
No. The free trade agreement will preserve Australia's right to screen investments in the national interest.
Will the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement include Geographical Indications?
Australia and the UK have agreed the free trade agreement will contain 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.
Have Australia and the UK agreed the free trade agreement will include intellectual property rights?
Australia and the UK have agreed the free trade agreement will include commitments in support of our vibrant creative sectors, including high standard provisions on copyright, designs and the enforcement of intellectual property rights online. Australia will agree 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 will include 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 have identified a number of areas for future cooperation including on low emissions technologies, clean growth and environmental goods and services.
Will provisions on animal welfare be 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.
Can I make a written submission in relation to the negotiations?
Yes. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade welcomes submissions from interested individuals and groups on the potential opportunities and impacts of a future free trade agreement with the UK.