Australia’s Overview of the Second Negotiating Round
The Australian Government has released its overview of what was covered in Round 2 of the negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with the UK.
Due to travel restrictions resulting from COVID-19, the negotiations were conducted virtually.
Over 40 sessions were held in the two weeks of the round, covering trade in goods, services and investment, digital trade, legal and institutional, and other issues typically covered in a modern and comprehensive FTA, such as intellectual property, government procurement and SMEs.
We made substantive progress through text-based discussions for most issues, in a positive atmosphere. The third round of negotiations is scheduled for 23 November to 4 December. Negotiators will continue work intersessionally to maintain momentum.
Australia remains committed to pursuing an ambitious and comprehensive FTA with the UK that builds on our existing strengths in two-way trade and investment, supports our post-COVID economic recovery and signals our shared commitment to global trade liberalisation.
Trade in Goods
Australia and the UK discussed our respective approaches to the Trade in Goods Chapter. We also had preliminary discussions on market access for goods, including the approach to initial offers.
On Rules of Origin, Australia and the UK engaged in a detailed discussion of key chapter text, including articles covering wholly obtained goods, cumulation, de minimis and transhipment. Good progress was made as there was significant common ground between the two sides.
Australia and the UK discussed our respective approaches to the Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures chapters and provided explanations on chapter text. There were broad similarities across a number of articles and we had useful discussions on our respective systems.
Discussions on Customs and Trade Facilitation between Australia and the UK will be held in mid-October due to the availability of negotiators.
Services and Investment
We held detailed discussions on text for chapters on Investment, Cross Border Trade in Services, Financial Services, Temporary Entry for Business Persons, Professional Services and Telecommunications Services. Discussions focussed on identifying areas of convergence, and proposals that would require further analysis and consultation. Information exchanges on issues including our respective visa regimes and Australia’s proposals on youth mobility enhanced the discussions.
Australia and the UK began text-based discussions on the Intellectual Property Chapter and covered areas including trademarks, industrial designs, patents, the enforcement of intellectual property rights online and cooperation on intellectual property issues. These discussions were aided by the contributions of relevant experts from intellectual property agencies on both sides.
Australia and the UK had useful text-based discussions on a range of digital trade issues including data flows, data localisation, e-authentication, e-payments, e-invoicing and personal information protection. Both sides explained our differing approaches to the scope of the chapter.
Other FTA Issues
Australia and the UK also held productive discussions on the Competition, Environment, Government Procurement, Labour, Regulatory Coherence, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) chapters. Both sides discussed the structure and content of the chapters, and exchanged information on our respective systems and past FTA approaches. There was also useful dialogue on Australia’s domestic approach towards meeting our climate change targets and fisheries management in the environment session.
Legal and Institutional issues
Australian and UK negotiators had productive discussions on our respective approaches to legal, institutional and cross-cutting provisions. We made good progress across the issues discussed, particularly on General Provisions and Exceptions. We share a similar approach to these issues and we agreed to an expansive agenda for the next round.
Australian and UK negotiators also had a positive and detailed discussion about our approaches to establishing a Dispute Settlement process under the FTA. Both sides share a desire to create an efficient, transparent and effective dispute settlement mechanism.
We held further useful discussions on cross-cutting issues, including on critical minerals, space cooperation, sustainable trade and innovation.
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