The Morrison Govt. of Australia are resistant to expanding a new post-Brexit trade agreement that includes visa-free travel between the UK and Australia. The Govt. argued that any agreement that bypassed the current immigration caps could be very unpopular in both countries.
Simon Birmingham, Trade Minister, said that some revision to “work rights” may be accepted by both countries. However, free movement within Australia will not be on the table during the negotiations.
Australia and New Zealand already have a free movement agreement with each other. However, the Morrison Govt. does not intend to propose a similar agreement to the UK.
Liz Truss, International Trade Secy. of the UK, said that the UK might possibly talk about free movement during the August-September visit. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also is a big advocate of creating a visa-free zone.
Australia fears that a free movement deal could have major economic and social consequences. The possibilities include the movement of high skilled Australian workers to the UK and an influx of low-skilled British citizens to Melbourne and Sydney.
The UK allows Australian passport holders to visit the UK for up to six months without a Visa. However, UK passport holders need a Visa to enter Australia. The last financial year saw 636,000 UK citizens obtain Tourist, Business or Temporary Work Visas.
Mr Birmingham believed that revising the existing immigration rules to allow more flexibility is a high probability. However, he stressed that his first priority was to seal a free trade deal that gave Australian exporters greater access to the UK market.
With the UK leaving the European Union, it now means that the UK must sign new trade deals with major economies like the US and Australia.
The UK is the eighth largest trading partner of Australia. The two-way trade between Australia and the UK in 2018 is valued at $26.9 billion. The UK is also the second-largest source country for total foreign investment in Australia.
Britain will formally leave the European Union on 31st January 2020. However, the customs, economic and migration relationship will remain the same for the coming one year while the two parties try to seal new security and trading pacts.
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