The UK has been urged to join multi-lateral trade agreements being abandoned by US President, Donald Trump, with Australia’s High Commissioner in London, Alexander Downer, stating Australia would have no objection to Britain joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Leading figures on global trade addressing the 2017 Prosperity conference in Westminster, said the UK should focus on joining existing trade agreements when it leaves the EU, expected by March 31st, 2019.
The conference coincided with reports from Washington that the US may withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) altogether, instead of revising the current deal between Canada, Mexico and the United States.
President Trump has already said the US will quit the Trade Pacific Partnership (TPP) of which Australia is a member.
The UK’s Minister for Brexit, David Davis, said at the conference that the UK’s departure from the EU “should not be viewed through a protectionist lens,” as John Weekes – Canada’s former chief negotiator on NAFTA – said he would advise the UK’s Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, to step into the United States’ place so the UK wouldn’t have to start new trade agreements from scratch.
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“It would make a lot of sense for the UK to join the NAFTA. There is an accession clause in NAFTA,” he said. Respective of TPP, Weekes also claimed that “although its called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, why not think from a UK perspective of joining that? In many ways the TPP agreement is already a modernisation of the NAFTA because it involves the three NAFTA countries and it’s kind of an update of the NAFTA”.
Without the United States, the TPP involves Australia, Canada and New Zealand, along with additional countries including Mexico, Singapore and Vietnam.
Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, said Australia would welcome the UK into the TPP once its departure from the EU is finalised.
“I think the TPP will go ahead myself. The TPP is 40 per cent of global GDP if you include the US, and even if you don’t, its still a big part of the global GDP, could the UK join that? We wouldn’t have any objection,” he said.
“Setting up new structures would be a laborious way to start. I think better to start with bilateral agreements and have a look if there are other plural-lateral agreements you might like to think of joining.”
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