The Roadmap To CANZUK: What’s To Come?

With the Australia-UK trade deal completed in principle, the New Zealand-UK trade deal close behind and Canada facing an impending national election, the roadmap to CANZUK can seem difficult to navigate. We lay out the expected route for CANZUK and what the future holds for the campaign in the months and years ahead.

CANZUK Flags
The flags of CANZUK countries fly at Parliament Square in London, UK (photo: Andrew Rosindell)
Written by James Skinner
 
James is the Founder & Chief Executive of CANZUK International in Toronto, Canada

                

The broad terms of the Australia-UK agreement were settled in London on June 14th, with its public announcement made by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson the same day.

The new agreement will be a zero-tariffs free trade deal. In 2019-20, trade of goods and services between the UK and Australia was valued at £20.1billion, meaning the new deal will give producers and businesses better and more profitable access to each other’s markets.

Unlike all other post-Brexit trade deals which the United Kingdom has negotiated, it also sets the foundation for future agreements with Canada and New Zealand by implementing new provisions on visas. Citizens of either the UK or Australia, under the age of 35, can undertake a working holiday visa for up to three years, and many skilled professionals can now receive recognition for their qualifications in either country.

The provisions also offer UK citizens, who wish to undertake a new agricultural visa, a pathway to citizenship if they work in regional or rural areas.


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Overall, the deal is as comprehensive as it is positive for CANZUK. It sets provisions for easier mobility, trade and mutual skills recognition which are three core components of our campaign. Furthermore, it provides us at CANZUK International the flexibility to negotiate and enhance these provisions in the months and years ahead; increasing the age limits on visas, allowing more skills and qualifications to be recognized between Australia and the UK, etcetera.

In addition, it gives us incredible scope to lobby Canadian and New Zealand MPs to implement a similar deal with the UK and eventually each other. If Australia can come to the table and agree pro-CANZUK provisions, why can’t they?

New Zealand and the United Kingdom are expected to conclude their trade agreement next month. CANZUK International has been invited to attend ongoing discussions and stakeholder forums surrounding the deal, and to date, we have been encouraged by the potential of this agreement to emulate the Australia-UK deal.

UK International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, has also stated:

“Both sides are committed to striking a modern, liberalising agreement that forges closer ties between two island democracies that believe in free and fair trade. I am pushing UK interests hard in areas like services, mobility and investment, and want a deal that cuts tariffs on our exports.”

Although predicting the outcome of political negotiations is like trying to predict the weather, we will continue to work with UK and New Zealand MPs, push CANZUK-supportive policies and inevitably see provisions implemented in this trade deal to liberalize mobility and enhance mutual skills recognition between the two nations.

Finally, Canada and the UK have agreed in principle to begin negotiations for a new Canada-UK trade deal which enhances the roll-over CETA agreement currently in place.

However, as so often happens in politics, governments can decide at a moments notice to call a snap election, and the Canadian government are rumored to make an announcement for August 2021. This means delayed trade negotiations with the UK government until an election decides on a Liberal or Conservative government.

As inconvenient as this may be, CANZUK International continues to engage with MPs from both parties and has secured support from both sides of the political aisle. The Conservative Party continue to endorse CANZUK in parliamentary and public events, while Liberal Party cabinet ministers have also emphasized their support for increasing ties between the four nations.

We will likely know the election outcome by the end of September 2021, but regardless of who wins, CANZUK International will continue to engage with supportive MPs and advance provisions for mobility, trade and foreign policy for an upcoming trade deal with the United Kingdom.

But once these deals are negotiated, what happens then?

As mentioned, the Australia-UK trade deal provides the ideal foundation upon which a Canada-UK deal and a New Zealand-UK deal can be formulated. Once in place, provisions surrounding mobility, trade and mutual skills recognition can be further negotiated, advanced and implemented to ensure that more CANZUK citizens benefit from these arrangements.

Naturally, this will likely happen incrementally, but this could be achieved by increasing the age limit of visas from 35 to 40 and increasing visa time-frames from three years to five years. From there, we can continue advocacy to ensure those under the age of 50 qualify, time-frames are extended to six or seven years, and inevitably, free movement for all law abiding citizens is achieved.

Furthermore, there is no reason why these policies should be developed with the UK operating as the “anchor” country. Already, Canada and Australia have established a Minister’s forum to further diplomatic ties and foreign policy arrangements, which will undoubtedly progress discourse for trade and free movement of citizens. Together with New Zealand and all four countries collaborating as Five Eyes Intelligence partners, trade, mobility and foreign policy cooperation can easily be negotiated and implemented as relationships build and the success of CANZUK progresses.

Of course, it all begins with the Australia-UK trade agreement and the incredible scope it has granted us to pursue CANZUK in the months and years ahead. There is much work to be done, but the future of CANZUK looks very bright indeed.

         
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