The UK is a notable investor in Australia, although the same is not seen in the opposite direction, in terms of amount, or percentage.
There are solid ties, despite a 10,000 mile geographical gap. The Australian community in the UK is well established and 1.2 million UK citizens are resident in Australia, a little higher than the entire EU.
Tourism is strong, we feel at home in each other’s countries. Trade links are reasonable, although a number of areas declined in recent decades and the image of Australia being a key post Brexit partner deserves thought.
Australia and the EU have been working on a trade deal in principle since early 2014 and in detail for over a year. There is still some way to go, which reflects the requirements of putting trade deals together.
A UK deal with Australia might take a number of years and would not be their priority. In response to Brexit, the Australian team stated that “Historical nostalgia should not override trade realities.”
A leading team member qualified this with the view that the UK’s importance as Australia’s 5th largest trade partner is artificially inflated by our membership of the EU. After Brexit, the UK’s value to Australian firms will diminish.
Australia’s trade with the EU already outweighs trade with the UK by 3 to 1. Suggestions of them giving us a speedy, preferential deal are not based on fact.
Opportunity Still Exists
Sentiment and practicalities such as language can still matter. In Australian business surveys, Whilst the US, China, India and the EU tend to head the list of potential markets, the UK is always on the list.
Ease of doing business is a factor, regulatory and legal systems are not far apart. International compliance is in place, the ATA carnets to Australia we supply cover all categories and other trading legislation is a fair match.
Australia’s economy is sound, with a higher GDP per capita than the UK and a need to import a range of products, services, or expertise. UK business is already meeting these needs and can continue to.
Australia will remain a place to do business but the idea of EU membership being replaced by old empire ties and instant solutions seems unlikely. At present, Australia accounts for about 1.6% of total UK exports, maintaining this would be a decent achievement.