Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop MP, has confirmed that the United Kingdom and Australia are ready to agree a free trade deal between the two countries as soon as practicable, ahead of the UK’s departure from the European Union in 2019.
Ministers from the Australian and British governments met this week in Edinburgh for the 10th Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN), discussing high level foreign policy, defence and security issues between the two countries.
The AUKMIN conference marks over a decade since the talks began and is frequently praised as a chance for both nations to reflect on enormous diplomatic progress made over that time.
Speaking ahead of the talks, the new British Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said:
“Australia is one of the UK’s closest allies…our relationship with Australia is based on shared history, interests and values, and we have a dynamic modern friendship including a significant exchange of people and goods”.
Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, also commented on the relationship between the two countries, stating that
“we are entering an exciting new era for Britain and Australia with our two nations having one of the strongest relationships in the world”.
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The United Kingdom has a strong and dynamic relationship with Australia underpinned by common values, shared heritage and a closely aligned strategic outlook. The recent awarding of a £20 billion contract from the Australian Government to BAE Systems to build nine British Type 26 Global Combat Ships is a demonstration of the relationship between the two countries working together to increase cooperation as part of the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance.
The relationship between the two countries has also been expanded through talks of freer movement for citizens. Foreign Affairs Minister for Australia, Julie Bishop MP, has made repeated calls for migration agreements to be negotiated so as to promote living and working rights for each country’s citizens, which are expected to be discussed as part of upcoming trade discussions.
Speaking at the AUKMIN conference, Bishop stated that “both governments stand ready to agree to a free trade agreement as soon as circumstances allow”, something which has been repeatedly echoed by Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in recent months.
The growing incentive for Australia to negotiate a CANZUK arrangement has also been emphasised by recent research from leading think tanks, revealing a significantly positive sentiment in Australia towards Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, and advocacy of free movement between the four countries from senior politicians.
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