Our departure from the European Union has provided us with a golden opportunity to develop an independent trade policy for the first time in over 40 years, allowing us to conduct our own negotiations and strengthen our already considerable trade and investment ties with like-minded countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
I am very pleased that the Government intends to negotiate new free trade agreements with both Australia and New Zealand. We share a Head of State, a language, a common law system and a common set of values as well as familial links. The UK, Australia and New Zealand are members of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance and the Five Power Defence Arrangement highlighting the close cooperation between our countries at present.
The UK, Australia and New Zealand are of course important economic partners too. Indeed, UK businesses traded £21 billion worth of goods and services in total with both countries last year and analysis by the DIT shows that the value of UK exports to Australia and New Zealand could rise by approximately £1 billion through new trade deals.
Furthermore, I am pleased the Government has said that through new free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand it will aim to increase opportunities for service suppliers and investors to operate in both these countries and also the UK, by enhancing opportunities for businesspeople and supporting further Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) whilst maintaining the UK’s high professional standards.
Indeed, the Government’s outline approach to negotiations with both Australia and New Zealand notes that facilitating temporary movement of businesspeople is important for promoting cross-border trade in professional services between the UK and Australia and New Zealand.
I further welcome that the Government has confirmed its intention to pursue accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Canada, New Zealand and Australia are CPTPP signatories. It is encouraging that all CPTPP members have welcomed the UK’s interest in accession.
However, it is not just about CANZUK, I look forward to the Government reaching out to all our Commonwealth partners to further enhance our economic ties.