Trade

Australias UK envoy sees hope of trade deal by end of 2020

Assuming Britain leaves the EU October 31, Australia is optimistic it can strike a trade pact with London “before the end of 2020” or even sooner, according to its U.K. envoy George Brandis.

“The reason I take that date is that it only took 15 months for Australia to complete our very, very ambitious FTA [free trade agreement] that is with the U.S. some 15 years ago,” the Australian high commissioner told POLITICOs London Playbook. “The political will to do it is there.”

Whether the U.K. managed to strike a deal with the EU before leaving the bloc likely wouldnt change things, Brandis said.

“I think myself that the shape of an FTA between the U.K. and Australia will be pretty much the same whether it is a no-deal Brexit or a Brexit with a deal, assuming that, as I think we may, that that deal doesnt include a customs union or other trade restrictions on dealing with third-party nations,” he said.

Brandis urged the U.K. to take a positive view of its trade future after leaving the EU, telling pessimists to “look at the Australian experience.” Australia conducts 70 percent of its trade with countries with which it has trade agreements. “My advice to the U.K. government is to be bold and not be afraid of free trade agreements,” Brandis said.

Brandis pointed out that commodity trading between Australia and the U.K. is still “relatively modest” — though the biggest trade is wine. His favorite? “You cant go wrong [with] a Penfolds — at whatever price point.” But what about British wine? “Some of it is very nice,” he conceded, but “I think the United Kingdom wine industry would have a way to go to match an Australian shiraz.”

Brandis, a former Australian Liberal Party senator who served in the conservative Howard, Abbott and Turnbull administrations, said he was a fan of the new British prime minister.

“What excites me about BorRead More – Source

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