UK and Australia 'kick the can' on trade deal despite both sides 'impatient' to get it signed

Wed 20 Oct 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Australian trade minister Dan Tehan has headed back home without signing the trade deal with the UK, as outstanding issues remain, though many of the chapters are finalised.

The two sides reached an agreement in principle in June, but have spent months going over the legal text since then.

Tehan and UK trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan have ‘kicked the can’ reports Politico as hopes of a last minute breakthrough faded following their meeting.

Long read

The UK version of the text is reportedly 1,000 pages longer than the Australian version, prompting Tehan to quip: “I’m not quite sure whether it’s just the type spacing or the different sides of the schedule, but they’ve got a few more pages than us.”

According to the London Economic, 29 of the 32 chapters of the legal text are finalised.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the deal will probably come into force on 1 July 2022 and will increase the working holiday visa age limit from 30 to 35, giving Australians and Britons a total of three years to live and work in each other’s countries.

Skills shortage

Australia has had almost no migration for the past 18 months and is facing a skills shortage as the country looks to open up.

Tehan, who brought Trevelyan a gift of Australian gin, said of the outstanding deal: “I can tell you no one is more impatient than me to get that done. But we do have to make sure that we get it right.”

During his 17-day trip, Tehan was due to meet EU officials but had meetings cancelled as Brussels showed solidarity with France over the recent cancellation of the submarine deal with Australia, reports Reuters.