A former diplomat has demanded that Australia begins trade talks with the UK as soon as possible, as the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, toughens his stance on Britain exiting the EU.
Written by Darren Hunt – The Express
Georgina Downer, a fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, reiterated that Australia and the UK should begin informal talks about a trade deal now.
Britain cannot agree trade deals until the UK has fully cut ties with Brussels, however Ms Downer said informal talks should begin now to save time.
She said: “Well that is a difficult issue there. What he is talking about is whether Britain and the EU negotiate in tandem, an FTA (Future trade agreement) and a divorce settlement a large sum of money to exit out of its EU agreements.
“For Australia, we cannot really formally negotiate an FTA until probably 2019 in two years time.
“Of course we should be having informal negotiations. I expect they are ongoing at the moment.
“There is no point waiting until 2019 and then negotiating an FTA because if we want to do a quick deal, which I think is very much in our interest and very much in Britain’s interest then we should have some preliminary negotiations now.”
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EU diplomats have called on Mr Tusk, the President of the European Council, to strengthen his stance on the divorce bill Britain must pay when leaving the EU.
Mr Tusk’s Brexit negotiation plans have been backed by EU members, however many were keen to see a firmer stance.
Members are thought to have rejected the idea that a trade deal can be discussed simultaneously alongside the Brexit divorce bill, which is thought to be in the region on £50 billion.
Negotiating guidelines are likely to be approved by the 27 members without the UK when they meet for a summit in Brussels on April 29, with talks unlikely to begin until late May.
Ms Downer claimed that Britain voting to Leave the EU and wanting to agree trade agreements was the beginning of a “new relationship” between the UK and Australia.
She added: “I think it is absolutely a new chapter for Britain and for Australia’s relations with Britain.
“I would expect that we will see good market access opening up for agricultural exports especially.
“Once the UK will be out it will determine the terms on which it receives our exports and we would expect very positive treatment in terms of low if not no tariff barriers there.
“In the last 10 years we have seen a decline in Australian’s who have been able to live and work in Britain as the UK has tightened the restrictions for non-EU migrants, we would hope that an FTA would try and rectify that.”
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