Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said both the UK and Australia are hoping to have a new trade agreement ready to implement by the end of the Brexit transition period. The UK is currently negotiating with the EU to agree on the future trade deal they will have but until December 31, 2020 Britain still has to abide by European Union regulation on commerce. Asked about a timeline for a future agreement with Australia, Mr Abbott told the Policy Exchange: “Obviously, as Prime Minister, you are not dealing with the minutiae of trade deals, you’re dealing with the very highest of levels and you are a) reassuring the heads of other governments that you would like to bring about a deal that is a win-win situation as quickly as possible.
“And you’re encouraging senior officials not to be held up by things that are not important, and not to be distracted by things that are not really issues of trade but might be issues, for argument’s sake, of the environment.
“Talks between Australia and Britain have been going on now virtually since the Brexit vote. Obviously, they’ve intesified as times have gone by.
“I know because of statements that have been made on both sides that there’s an eagerness to get this deal done well before the end of the year.
“I would certainly like to hope, as of January 1 next year, a trade deal between the UK and Australia on goods is entirely free of quotas and tariffs.
“That there is full, neutral recognition of standards and qualifications, and that there is, to a very great extend possibly subject to a generous quota, free movement of people for work not welfare.”
The end of the Brexit transition could usher in a new trade deal with Australia
Tony Abbott said there is an “eagerness” to conclude trade talks with the UK
Mr Abbott has been recently tipped for a leading advisory role in the UK to help the country seize post-Brexit trade opportunities away from the EU.
Reports published last week suggested the social conservative former Prime Minister could soon become the president of the UK’s Board of Trade but the British High Commission in Canberra suggested the claims were premature.
The Sydney Morning Herald Europe correspondent Bevan Shield however suggested Mr Abbott would join the board not as co-chair but as a member.
Mr Shield responded the the reports on Twitter writing: “My understanding is that this story is NOT correct.
“Tony Abbott is likely to join the Board of Trade in some sort of advisory capacity but will not be the co-president.”
Tony Abbott had previously advised the UK to stay in the EU
Mr Abbott, who was born in the UK but moved to Australia when he was two, has long highlighted the importance of the shared bonds his adoptive countries shares with the UK.
He had also advised British voters to stick with the European Union ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum, saying: “Any British decision to withdraw from the European Union would have seismic consequences.
“There’s much to dislike about the EU but very little that would be improved if Britain left.”
The UK concluded the seventh round of trade talks with Brussels last month, with both negotiating team lamenting the lack of progress made despite the short time left to find an agreement.
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Brexit talks are due to conclude by December 2020
Number 10 on Tuesday accused Brussels of making it “unnecessarily difficult to make progress” over the past few months.”
A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said: “We have been clear from the outset about the principles underlying the UK approach.
“We are seeking a relationship that respects our sovereignty and which has a free trade agreement at its core, similar to those the EU has already agreed with like-minded countries.
“However, the EU is still insisting not only that we must accept continuity with EU state aid and fisheries policy, but also that this must be agreed before any further substantive work can be done in any other area of the negotiation, including on legal texts, making it unnecessarily difficult to make progress.
“We will continue to work hard to reach agreement and look forward to the next round taking place next week.”