British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visited Australia as a part of his first overseas trip since the UK officially left the European Union and met with Australian foreign secretary Marise Payne. As the current trade between UK and Australia was worth £18.3billion in 2019, Britain is now aiming an early trade deal with the island country while it still remains in an 11-month transition period with the EU.
Raab arrived in Australia on February 6 as a part of a four-country visit to the Asia-Pacific region and discussed the future trade and investment opportunities along with the scope of an early free trade deal. While British FM called the UK to be the 'natural partner' of Australia, Payne said her country is 'ready to seize the opportunity of the new era'.
A great pleasure to see @MarisePayne. With our shared history, interests and values, 🇦🇺 is a natural partner for the 🇬🇧. We discussed our ambition for a free trade agreement, global challenges from counter-terrorism to climate change and our shared values on human rights. pic.twitter.com/KKhXU5gqoU— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) February 6, 2020
We are ready & enthusiastic to seize the opportunity of a new era for enhanced strategic & economic cooperation, based in our deeply felt common values & principles. Good to host my friend @DominicRaab on his first OS trip since the UK left the EU. 🇦🇺🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/zmOYeWv6Ur— Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) February 6, 2020
Ahead of his visit to Australia, Raab had said that both the UK and Australia have 'unique friendship' because of sharing common values. Now that the UK will be identified as the third country. Britain has the chance to 'broaden its horizons' and embrace the opportunities. The British FM is also scheduled to meet Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. Being the members of the Commonwealth, Britain and Australia are considered close partners on the international stage.
In the same visit, according to the official release by the British government, Raab will also arrive in Sydney to meet business leaders along with the people involved in the response of deadly unprecedented bushfires that have rocked the country for several months. Other countries where the British FM will visit include, Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia.
While Raab is pitching free trade agreements in Indo-Pacific region, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made the stage clear for a trade agreement with the European Union which shall be negotiated by the end of the transition period. Johnson stressed the need for a 'comprehensive free-trade agreement' similar to the 'Canada-style' agreement with the EU. He further denied settling into any trade accord which would require the UK to follow bloc's rules. Instead, British PM says that 'EU should be obliged' to follow Britain's rules as according to him, Britain is doing 'better' than the 27-nation-bloc in many ways.
The British PM said, “There is no need for a free-trade agreement to involve accepting EU rules on competition, policies, subsidies, social protection of environment or anything similar, any more than EU should be obliged to accept UK rules. The UK will maintain the highest and better standards in these areas than those of the EU without the compulsion of a treaty.”