LONDON — The U.K. has revealed its objectives for free-trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand and said talks will begin “shortly.”
The department for international trade put forward a broad brush list of objectives for each nation, setting goals for increased trade in goods and services and greater cross-border investment, without compromising the U.K. health service, environmental protections and standards for consumers and workers.
According to the government, the value of U.K. exports to the two nations could increase by around £1 billion a year, with drinks firms, the car industry and professional services tipped to benefit from reduced trade barriers.
It said talks will begin in the “coming weeks” and will take place via videoconference, at least at first, due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The U.K. side will be overseen by top trade adviser Crawford Falconer.
Britain is seeing these prospective deals, as well as its ongoing negotiations with Japan, as a crucial staging post toward joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“Our new-found status as an independent trading nation will enable us to strengthen ties with countries around the world,” International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement Wednesday. “Ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreements with old friends like Australia and New Zealand are a powerful way for us to do that and make good on the promise of Brexit.”
She added: “Pivoting toward the Asia-Pacific will diversify our trade, increase the resilience of our supply chains and ensure the U.K. is less vulnerable to political and economic shocks in certain parts of the world.”
Since legally quitting the EU, Britain has launched trade talks with the U.S. and Japan, while negotiations about its future relationship with Brussels are ongoing.
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