The UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, opened the first Commonwealth Trade Ministers’ Meeting yesterday by expressing a commitment to establishing Commonwealth free trade agreements, which are likely to prioritise trade and immigration deals with Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Speaking in London, Fox emphasised that the UK’s decision to leave the EU was a mandate for the British government to forge a different future for “a truly global Britain“.
“Those of us, represented here today, have, through our shared history and experience, witnessed the transformation that trade can bring and have a duty to ensure that the benefits that we enjoy today are made available to future generations“, Fox said.
The meeting of Commonwealth Ministers follows talks between Fox and Australian Trade Minister, Steven Ciobo, where The Times newspaper suggested outlines of trade deals with Australia, New Zealand and Canada could be finalised as early as next year.
A top issue for many within the CANZUK nations is the prospect of free movement agreements as part of future trade deals. Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Alexander Downer, has already expressed his support for greater visa liberalisation between Australia and the UK if a trade deal is to be struck.
As expected, no direct mention of CANZUK free movement was mentioned on the first day of the Commonwealth Ministers meeting, but the commitment to establishing free trade agreements not only bodes well for the 52 Commonwealth countries, but also for the CANZUK nations who will be first in line for greater trade and immigration policy cooperation.
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