The Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Alexander Downer, has confirmed that the Australian government is ready to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal with the United Kingdom, with implementation expected to take less than a year and a half.
Speaking in central London this week, the senior diplomat said it took 15 months for Australia to negotiate a trade deal with the United States, and a similar agreement would be reached with the UK “very quickly”.
Downer also condemned “fairytales” that Australia would flood the British market with cheap agricultural produce, as he urged the UK not to “play politics” with a future deal.
His remarks were made in light of the Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones’ claims that a free trade deal with Australia and New Zealand would cripple Welsh farming. He also urged the UK to put economics before politics, emulating the British Prime Minister’s “Brexit means Brexit” catchphrase, stating “if free trade means free trade, it can be done very quickly”.
Speaking at the same event, British Pensions Secretary, David Gauke, urged his Cabinet colleagues to not see foreigners as “potential enemies” but instead view the world “as potential suppliers and customers”.
Downer has also expressed firm support for freer movement between Australia and the UK, previously claiming that any free trade deal should include provisions for Australians to live and work in the UK as freely as EU citizens.
The Australian and New Zealand governments have previously declared themselves “first in line” for future Brexit negotiations, while the Canadian government has also pledged a swift trade deal as soon as the UK departs from the European Union.
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