The government has introduced draft legislation to pave the way for ratification of the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) it has signed with Australia and the New Zealand.
To bring both deals into British law, the government has announced that the following will have to happen:
- The Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill has to be agreed by Parliament
- Necessary secondary legislation has to be passed by Parliament to make the changes required to Britain’s procurement regime
- Only once the steps above have been completed can these FTAs be ratified and enforced
The government has published the full text for both FTAs along with full independently scrutinised impact assessments.
It has given the independent Trade & Agriculture Commission more than three months to report on each agreement.
The Commission’s report on the UK-Australia Agreement was published on 13 April, and it is due to report on the UK-New Zealand Agreement in June.
For these agreements, the Bill will change UK rules on procurement, which in turn will widen access for UK suppliers to procurement opportunities in Australia and New Zealand.
Both the UK-Australia and UK-New Zealand free trade agreements include commitments to address climate change by prioritising decarbonisation and increasing innovation in green sectors.
For the first time, UK service suppliers – such as architects, scientists, researchers, lawyers and accountants – will have access to visas to work in Australia without being subject to Australia’s changing skilled occupation list.
Britons aged 18 to 35 will also be able to travel and work in Australia with a Working Holiday Maker Visa for up to three years.
From scratch deals
International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “I am excited to see the UK implement its first ‘from scratch’ Free Trade Agreements in over 50 years and deliver on a key Brexit benefit - having our own independent trade policy.”
She added: “This Bill will enable us to export our world-class goods and services and bring high-quality imports at reduced rates for British customers.”
December’s UK-Australia deal is expected to increase trade by 53% and boost the economy by £2.3bn.
The UK-New Zealand Agreement is expected to increase trade by almost 60% and boost the economy by £800m.
NI firm benefits
Northern Ireland bus manufacturer Wrightbus is set to benefit from the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which slashed tariffs on electric vehicles to 0%.
Wrightbus has partnered with Volgren to provide ground-breaking hydrogen fuel cell technology for the manufacture of two bus models, which will be the first of their kind built in Australia.