Australian ex-negotiator 'hasn't heard any benefits' for UK in new trade deal

15 June 2021, 16:43

Former Australian trade negotiator: 'We've never done as well as this'

By Tim Dodd

Former trade negotiator Dmitry Grozoubinski celebrates the "virtually unprecedented result" for Australia in the trade deal with the UK, telling James O'Brien "we've not heard" any benefits for Brits.

The conversation comes as the UK agrees a free trade deal with Australia which will see a cap on tariff-free imports for 15 years, while other "safeguards" will be brought in to protect British farmers.

Speaking to James O'Brien, Mr Grozoubinski said: "The one thing Australia wants out of trade deals, the reason we do them, the marching orders we used to get, is access into agricultural markets abroad.

"I don't think we have ever done as well as this. Getting rid of all tariffs and quotas forever, is virtually an unprecedented result. It's as good as you could possibly get from Australia's perspective in a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom, but not transformational for our economy - you guys are pretty far away."

"But that means the UK must've secured some pretty spectacular wins in return?" James asked.

Mr Grozoubinski replied: "Well if they have, those wins are hiding inside a giant cake and planning to jump out... because we have not heard any of them.

"Even today Minister Truss was tweeting about the deal, the way she tries to sell it is to say you'll get cheaper Australian products. But that, in trade negotiation terms, was a concession by the United Kingdom - it's agreeing to get rid of a tax on Australian imports."

Farmers Union of Wales: 'This deal is potentially a runaway train.'

James then said there is currently about £14 billion worth of UK Australia trade at the moment, asking Dmitry: "How much might we expect that figure to go up?"

"It's really hard to say," he replied.

"The thing is, Australia doesn't have that many barriers to selling it's stuff, in terms of ones that a free trade agreement can actually touch. Australia doesn't have many tariffs, so there's not that much to get rid of."

Concerns over Aus-UK trade deal is 'childish', says ex-commissioner

Under the agreement, under 35s will have greater opportunity to travel and work in Australia under a free trade deal with the UK.

Although the exact details of what this may mean have not been made clear, it is thought it could mean that the farm work requirement on working holiday visas could be scrapped.

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