UK in trade talks with Aus­tralia

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

BRITAIN and Aus­tralia have dis­cussed ne­go­ti­at­ing a post-Brexit trade agree­ment, the two coun­tries’ lead­ers said yes­ter­day at the G20 sum­mit in China, as Britain seeks to se­cure its eco­nomic ties be­fore quit­ting the EU.

“Britain’s made a very mo­men­tous and his­toric choice to leave the Euro­pean Union,” Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull said as he met his new Bri­tish coun­ter­part Theresa May.

“We have al­ready been en­gaged in dis­cus­sions with you about what the free trade agree­ments may look like after that.”

In the wake of its vote to leave the EU, Britain must rene­go­ti­ate its ac­cess to the mar­kets of the rest of the world, as well as those of the group­ing it is leav­ing.

It is a huge task for the world’s fifth-big­gest econ­omy.

Aus­tralia is “de­ter­mined” to pro­vide its ally with sup­port in ne­go­ti­at­ing new deals with other coun­tries, Mr Turn­bull added.

Britain main­tains a close re­la­tion­ship with its re­source-rich former colony, and Ms May said she was grate­ful for Mr Turn­bull’s of­fer of trade dis­cus­sions.

Aus­tralia would be “one of the first coun­tries we will be look­ing to”, she said, in what would be among the first such ne­go­ti­a­tions fol­low­ing the Brexit vote.

But EU Com­mis­sion chief JeanClaude Juncker has said he op­poses trade talks be­tween Britain and other economies while it re­mains part of the Euro­pean Union.

“I don’t like the idea that mem­ber states of the EU, in­clud­ing those who are still a mem­ber state of the Euro­pean Union, are ne­go­ti­at­ing free trade agree­ments,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to EU of­fi­cials, for­mal ne­go­ti­a­tions with Brus­sels it­self can­not start un­til Lon­don trig­gers Ar­ti­cle 50, the pro­vi­sion gov­ern­ing its de­par­ture from the group­ing.

Aus­tralia would seek to help Britain con­duct trade talks, Mr Turn­bull said, as Lon­don has not had to ham­mer out its own deals since join­ing the EU and lacks the large num­ber of ne­go­tia­tors needed to reach such agree­ments.

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said at a joint brief­ing with Ms May that they had dis­cussed trade and both coun­tries aim to “en­sure that we don’t see ad­verse ef­fects” in their com­mer­cial ties. It was “al­ready a very strong and ro­bust eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship that can be­come even stronger in the fu­ture”, he said.

Ms May said that fol­low­ing Brexit “we will be look­ing to es­tab­lish new trad­ing re­la­tion­ships around the globe”. –

Photo: AFP

Aus­tralia’s Mal­colm Turn­bull sup­ports trade with Britain.

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