Australia, the EU and UK
Europe was Australia's third largest market for goods and its return to work was very important for Australians now looking to see the economy moving again, Director of the EU Centre in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies Professor Bruce Wilson said.
Research scientists in both parts of the world were also collaborating in the challenge of understanding the virus and developing a vaccine – demonstrating a growing connectedness, enhanced by a treaty-level agreement signed in 2017.
“Security, crisis response, education and research and of course, trade, are all areas where the EU and Australia have a lot in common," he said.
At the relationship’s heart was a very strong commitment to seeing global affairs managed according to a rules-based order.
“The EU’s single market could become even more important for Australia, with a trade agreement currently being negotiated potentially seeing final agreement in place by 2021, if not even by Christmas,” he noted.
Prior to joining the EU, the UK was Australia’s most important trading partner by far according to Wilson.
Post-Brexit, the UK and Australia announced in June 2020 they would commence negotiations for a new trade partnership.
”This will look dramatically different from the past relationship, but will still be very important for both sides,” he said.
There was unlikely to be much interference between the two agreements, as the EU-Australia process was well advanced, while Wilson expected the UK-Australian negotiations to proceed quite quickly.
“Either way, both agreements will send clear messages about the commitment of both Australia and the EU to safe and rules-based trade.”
After lengthy delays, the UK and EU Brexit negotiators had restarted intense face-to-face negotiations, which would rotate between Brussels and London over the next five weeks.
“This is widely regarded as the last chance for the UK to secure a deal that will permit an orderly exit from the EU Single Market at the end of December 2020,” Wilson said.
“If no deal is achieved, the UK and EU will trade under WTO rules, which will have significant implications for the trade agreements that Australia might reach with both the EU and the UK.”
Story: Diana Robertson