The CANZUK Campaign: Our Year In Review

As the new year begins, we look back at 2021’s major accomplishments for the CANZUK campaign and look at what 2022 holds for establishing closer diplomatic ties between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

2021 CANZUK International
The CANZUK campaign has made significant strides throughout 2021 with further success to come in 2022
Written by James Skinner
 
James is the Founder & Chief Executive of CANZUK International in Toronto, Canada

                

It has been another difficult year for many given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but there have also been some major developments in the past 12 months for furthering ties between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom (CANZUK).

Within the first few weeks of 2021, CANZUK International submitted a report to the New Zealand parliament detailing the benefits of facilitated migration, free trade and foreign policy coordination between the CANZUK countries.

The report, titled “The Future of New Zealand’s Foreign Policy”, was received well by MPs from both the governing Labour Party and the opposition National Party, and we continue to work with said representatives as part of ongoing meetings (both cross-party and individual).

This supportive sentiment was also echoed by UK Members of Parliament in January, who called for the UK government to work towards establishing closer ties with Canada, Australia and New Zealand following the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.


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The call, announced in a live parliamentary debate, was requested by MPs Andrew Rosindell and Martin Vickers while discussing the UK’s role outside of the European Union, and how the British government could capitalize on establishing its foreign policy objectives.

Polling of the UK parliament also revealed significant support for CANZUK mobility and trade deals, with significant backing from both the governing Conservative party and the opposition Labour party.

Specifically, 94% of UK Members of Parliament supported the free movement of goods between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, while 61% supported the free movement of people under a CANZUK agreement (23% opposed). The results demonstrated the highest support for CANZUK in UK parliamentary history and a significant mandate for the government to continue expanding CANZUK arrangements.

In February, polling conducted in the UK’s second parliamentary chamber (the House of Lords), also demonstrated considerable support for CANZUK, with three in four Peers agreeing that a CANZUK arrangement should be explored (with only one in ten disagreeing).

In March, a private foundation in the United States announced funding to begin an in-depth study for establishing a Canada, Australia, New Zealand & United Kingdom (CANZUK) space agency, which would enhance communications, technology and exploration between the four countries.

The Explorers Foundation, based in Denver, stated, “One of the main themes of the CANZUK Space Study is that the new commercial space revolution has made it more possible to do more in space for much less than ever before. The CANZUK grouping is well-placed for such a model, with Britain having particular expertise in small, low-cost satellites, Canada in radar imaging of the Earth, Australia with one of the best test ranges in the world, and New Zealand hosting a very effective private launch industry.”

North of the border, Canadian MPs were also declaring their support for CANZUK in April. During a parliamentary debate on trade and foreign affairs, Canadian MPs pledged their support and highlighted the benefits of Canada pursuing closer ties with Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The support from both MPs Garnett Genuis and Stephanie Kusie also came after the Leader of the Opposition in Canada, Erin O’Toole MP, pledged his support earlier in the year via a live video-conference to promote a trade and mobility deal between the four nations.

Later in May, the United Kingdom All-Party Parliamentary Group for CANZUK announced that it would launch an enquiry into formulating a mutual skills recognition agreement between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The agreement, designed to complement the Professional Qualifications Bill that was introduced to the UK parliament weeks prior, would allow citizens in certain professions to have their skills and credentials recognized in any of the four countries without the need to retrain or recertify. The agreement would also set the foundation for freer movement between the four nations.

The middle of the year also saw parliamentary representatives from across Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom issue a joint-statement committing to the progress of reciprocal migration, trade and foreign policy cooperation between the four countries.

Signatories included Kerry-Lynne Findlay MP (Canada), Senator Eric Abetz (Australia), Simon O’Connor MP (New Zealand) and Paul Bristow MP (UK), who stated that CANZUK would offer “the highest likelihood of greater prosperity which would come from closer trade links, facilitated migration and reciprocal recognition of credentials and qualifications.”

Polling conducted across Australia and the UK in June also revealed significant public support for free movement and trade between the countries, with 79% of Britons saying that opportunities to live, work and travel between the countries should be enhanced, and 81% of Australians saying the same.

This support eventually created waves across the diplomatic community when Australia and the United Kingdom agreed (and signed in December) a comprehensive trade agreement that ensured tariff free trade and the freer movement of citizens.

The deal was significant for the CANZUK campaign and a major win for CANZUK International’s lobbying efforts, as unlike all other post-Brexit arrangements negotiated by the UK, the Australia deal included extensive measures to liberalize the trade of goods and services, and advance mobility and pathways to citizenship through greater visa access for citizens.

The agreement also paved the way for the UK and New Zealand agreeing a deal-in-principle in October. Although negotiations are set to begin regarding the agreement’s fine print, CANZUK International has already submitted evidence in support of freedom of movement and tariff free trade, and the agreement will hopefully emulate that of the Australia deal with enhanced freedoms for citizens to live and work in both countries.

Finally, to close out the year, the government of Canada announced its notice of intent to enter into negotiations with the United Kingdom for a comprehensive free trade agreement, with potential for establishing tariff-free trade and the freer movement of citizens.

The deal is expected to benefit both economies as Canada exports $19.9 billion of goods to the United Kingdom while the UK exports $7.8 billion to Canada. Furthermore, the government of Canada held public consultations to solicit views of Canadians on a trade agreement, and of the 42 submissions received by the government, 28 (including a comprehensive submission by CANZUK International) suggested that any bilateral free trade agreement should constitute a step towards CANZUK, with free movement of people being cited as a key area of interest.

The Canada-UK trade deal would also compliment polling commissioned by CANZUK International in September, which revealed strong support amongst Canadians and Britons for implementing free movement and foreign policy cooperation between the four CANZUK countries.

With effective advocacy work from CANZUK International, both public and political support for closer CANZUK ties has gained incredible momentum throughout 2021. As an organization, we have continued to gain support for our proposals and are incredibly confident with the direction that we are heading in for 2022. With trade deals agreed upon and in progress between the four countries – which detail provisions for the free movement of citizens – the foundations for CANZUK have been laid and provide ample opportunity to build on throughout 2022 and beyond.

As the leading organization spearheading the CANZUK campaign, we are delighted with the progress made towards closer CANZUK ties and will continue to advocate for progressive migration and trade deals between the four countries throughout 2022.

From all of us at CANZUK International, thank you for your continued support of our campaign. We wish you a happy, safe and prosperous new year. Here’s to the campaign’s continued success!

         
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