Scrutiny of international agreements: UK-Australia free trade agreement Contents
Appendix 3: Extract from the UK Government strategy for the UK-Australia FTA
Public Negotiating Objectives for a Free Trade Agreement with Australia
On 17 June 2020, the UK Government published its Negotiating Objectives for a free trade agreement with Australia. The Negotiating Objectives are included in a larger document entitled UK-Australia free trade agreement: the UK’s strategic approach. The document has four chapters:
- Chapter 1: Strategic Case
- Chapter 2: Outline Approach
- Chapter 3: Public consultation
- Chapter 4: Scoping Assessment
Chapter 2: Outline Approach contains the Negotiating Objectives. Relevant extracts of that chapter are enclosed below.
- Agree an ambitious and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Australia that strengthens our economic relationship with a key like-minded partner, promoting increased trade in goods and services and greater cross-border investment.
- Strengthen our economic partnership focusing on technology, innovation and research and development (R&D). An FTA with Australia provides an opportunity to enhance co-operation on shared global and economic challenges, including supporting innovation and R&D across our economies. We will seek to set a new precedent with Australia by establishing an ambitious framework for co-operation in these areas, focusing on the role of trade policy in facilitating innovation.
- Increase the resilience of our supply chains and the security of our whole economy by diversifying our trade.
- Futureproof the agreement in line with the Government’s ambition on climate and in anticipation of rapid technological developments, such as Artificial Intelligence.
- The Government has been clear that when we are negotiating trade agreements, the National Health Service (NHS) will not be on the table. The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table. The services the NHS provides will not be on the table. The NHS is not, and never will be, for sale to the private sector, whether overseas or domestic.
- Secure an agreement which works for the whole of the UK and takes appropriate consideration of the UK’s constitutional arrangements and obligations.
- Throughout the agreement, ensure high standards and protections for UK consumers and workers and build on our existing international obligations. This will include not compromising on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety standards.
Trade in Goods
Goods Market Access
- Secure broad liberalisation of tariffs on a mutually beneficial basis, taking into account UK product sensitivities, in particular for UK agriculture.
- Secure comprehensive access for UK industrial and agricultural goods into the Australian market through the elimination of tariffs.
- Develop simple and modern Rules of Origin that reflect UK industry requirements and consider existing, as well as future, supply chains supported by predictable and low-cost administrative arrangements.
Customs and Trade Facilitation
- Secure commitments to efficient and transparent customs procedures which minimise costs and administrative burdens for businesses.
- Ensure that processes are predictable at, and away from, the border.
Technical Barriers to Trade
- Reduce technical barriers to trade by removing and preventing trade-restrictive measures in goods markets, while upholding the safety and quality of products on the UK market.
- Seek arrangements to make it easier for UK manufacturers to have their products tested against Australian rules in the UK before exporting.
- Promote the use of international standards, to further facilitate trade between the Parties.
Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary standards
- Uphold the UK’s high levels of public, animal, and plant health, including food safety.
- Enhance access for UK agri-food goods to the Australian market by seeking commitments to improve the timeliness and transparency of approval processes for UK goods.
Good Regulatory Practice and Regulatory Co-operation
- Reduce regulatory obstacles, facilitate market access for UK businesses and investors, and improve trade flows by ensuring a transparent, predictable and stable regulatory framework to give confidence and stability to UK exporting businesses and investors.
- Secure commitments to key provisions such as public consultation, use of regulatory impact assessment, retrospective review, and transparency, as well as regulatory co-operation.
- Ensure world class levels of transparency between the UK and Australia, particularly with regards to the publication of measures (such as laws and regulations) affecting trade and investment, public consultation, and the right of appropriate review of these measures.
- Commit, subject to the UK’s compliance with its data protection legislation, to prompt and open information sharing between the UK and Australia by setting up regular data sharing to support understanding of the usage and effectiveness of the agreement.
Trade in Services
- Secure ambitious commitments from Australia on market access and fair competition for UK services exporters.
- Agree best-in-class rules for all services sectors, as well as sector-specific rules, to support our world-leading services industry, including key UK export sectors, such as financial services, professional and business services and transport services.
- Ensure certainty for UK services exporters in their continuing access to the Australian market and transparency on Australian services regulation.
- Protect the right to regulate public services, including the NHS and public service broadcasters.
- Continue to ensure that decisions on how to run public services are made by UK Governments, including the devolved administrations (DAs), and not our trade partners.
- Increase opportunities for UK service suppliers and investors to operate in Australia by enhancing opportunities for business travel and supporting the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQs).
- Secure cutting-edge provisions which maximise opportunities for digital trade across all sectors of the economy.
- Include provisions that facilitate the free flow of data, whilst ensuring that the UK’s high standards of personal data protection are maintained and include provisions to prevent unjustified data localisation requirements.
- Promote appropriate protections for consumers online and ensure the Government maintains its ability to protect users from emerging online harms.
- Support the reduction or abolition of business and consumer restrictions relating to access to the Australian digital market.
- Ensure customs duties are not imposed on electronic transmissions.
- Promote a world-leading eco-system for digital trade that supports businesses of all sizes across the UK.
- Promote fair and transparent access to the Australian telecommunications market and avoid trade distortions.
- Secure greater accessibility and connectivity for UK consumers and businesses in the Australian market.
- Expand opportunities for UK financial services to ease frictions to cross-border trade and investment, complementing with co-operation on financial regulatory issues.
- Agree rules that ensure fair and open competition, and address barriers to UK investment across the Australian economy.
- Establish comprehensive rules which guarantee UK investors investing in Australia the same types of rights and protections they receive in the UK, including non-discriminatory treatment and ensuring that their assets are not expropriated without due process and fair compensation.
- Maintain the UK’s right to regulate in the national interest and, as the Government has made clear, continue to protect the NHS.
Intellectual Property (IP)
- Secure copyright, provisions that support UK creative industries through a balanced and effective global framework.
- Secure patents, trade marks, and designs provisions that:
- protect the UK’s existing IP standards and seek an effective and balanced regime which encourages and supports innovation
- protect UK brands and design-intensive goods whilst keeping the market open to fair competition
- do not lead to increased medicines prices for the NHS
- ensure consumer access to modern technology
- are consistent with the UK’s existing international obligations, including the European Patent Convention, to which the UK is Party
- Secure provisions that promote the transparent and efficient administration and enforcement of IP rights, and facilitate cross-border collaboration on IP matters.
- Restate the UK’s continued commitment to the Doha Declaration TRIPS Agreement (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) and Public Health, and agreed flexibilities that support access to medicines, particularly during public health emergencies in developing countries.
- Promote effective protection of UK geographical indications in a way that ensures consumers are not misled about the origins of goods while ensuring they have access to a range of products.
- Provide for effective competition law and enforcement that promotes open and fair competition for UK firms at home and in Australia.
- Provide for transparent and non-discriminatory competition laws, with strong procedural rights for businesses and people under investigation.
- Ensure core consumer rights are protected.
- Promote effective co-operation between enforcement agencies on competition and consumer protection matters.
State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs)
- Provide for open and fair competition between commercially oriented SOEs and private businesses, by preventing discrimination and unfair practices.
- Secure transparency commitments on SOEs.
- Ensure that UK SOEs, particularly those providing public services, can continue to operate as they do now.
- Secure access that goes beyond the level set in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) and is based on clear and enforceable rules and standards.
- Develop improved rules, where appropriate, to ensure that procurement processes are simple, fair, open, transparent and accessible for all potential suppliers in a way that supports and builds on our commitments in the WTO GPA.
- Ensure appropriate regard to public interests and services, including the need to maintain existing protections for key public services, such as NHS health services.
- Seek sustainability provisions, including on environment and climate change, that meet the ambition of both Parties on these issues.
- Ensure Parties reaffirm their commitment to international standards on the environment, climate change and labour.
- Ensure Parties do not waive or fail to enforce their domestic environmental or labour protections in ways that create an artificial competitive advantage.
- Include measures which allow the UK to maintain the integrity, and provide meaningful protection, of the UK’s world-leading environmental and labour standards.
- Secure provisions that support and help further the Government’s ambition on climate change and achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, including promoting clean growth, trade in low carbon goods and services, supporting research and development collaboration, maintaining both Parties’ right to regulate in pursuit of decarbonisation and reaffirming our respective commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.
- Apply appropriate mechanisms for the implementation, monitoring and dispute resolution of environmental and labour provisions.
- Secure provisions that address the trade- distorting effects of corruption on global trade and fair competition to help maintain the UK’s high standards in this area.
- Ensure appropriate mechanisms for the implementation, monitoring and dispute resolution of anti-corruption provisions.
Trade and Development
- Seek to ensure that relevant parts of the agreement support the Government’s objectives on trade and development, including through co-operation on the monitoring of, and response to, the impact of FTAs on developing countries.
- Support the continued delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Ensure provisions support market access, uphold our WTO commitments, and are underpinned
- by transparency, efficiency, impartiality and proportionality.
- Secure provisions which facilitate trade liberalisation while protecting against unfair trading practices.
- Establish appropriate mechanisms that promote compliance with the agreement and seek to ensure that state-to-state disputes are dealt with consistently, fairly and in a cost-effective, transparent and timely manner whilst seeking predictability and certainty for businesses and stakeholders.
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)
Support UK SMEs to seize the opportunities of UK- Australia trade by:
- ensuring a dedicated SME chapter to facilitate co-operation between the UK and Australia on SME issues of mutual interest.
- ensuring that SMEs have easy access to the information necessary to take advantage of the trade opportunities generated by the agreement.
- ensuring that throughout the agreement SME- friendly provisions are included that support businesses trading in both services and goods.
Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment
- Seek to advance women’s economic empowerment and seek co-operation on this aim.
- Promote women’s ability to access the benefits of the UK-Australia agreement in recognition of the disproportionate barriers that women can face in economic participation.
- Ensure flexibility for the Government to protect legitimate domestic priorities by securing adequate general exceptions to the agreement.
- Provide for prompt and open information sharing between the UK and Australia, including via preference utilisation data sharing to support understanding of the usage and effectiveness of the agreement.
- Seek opportunities for co-operation on issues related to economic growth, with a particular focus on services, digital innovation, R&D and the low- carbon economy.
- Provide for regular review of the economic relationship between the UK and Australia and the operation of the agreement, including taking into account developments in emerging markets and technologies. Allow for the agreement to be amended when necessary.
- Provide for application of the agreement to all four constituent nations of the UK, taking into account the effects of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland to the EU Withdrawal Agreement.
- Provide for further coverage of the agreement to the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories as appropriate.