Brexit: Will Australia and New Zealand team up for trade negotiations with Britain?

Source: AAP/Dean Lewins.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given a strong indication that Australia and New Zealand could work together when it comes to dealing with the trade implications of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Turnbull said on Monday he has spoken with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key about the “many, many common interests in terms of dealing with [the implications], both from a trade point of view, [and] from a movement of persons point of view”.

“There are some big issues in terms of the access of Australian and New Zealanders to Europe and indeed to the United Kingdom, a whole lot of issues to work on,” Turnbull said.

Turnbull said if the Coalition is re-elected at Saturday’s election, he and Key will “set out a collaborative, cooperative framework within which Australia and New Zealand will work together to ensure that we maximise any opportunities that arise out of these changes”, while also ensuring the interests of individuals and businesses in both countries are “protected”.

For his part, Key said the two countries will co-operate “where it makes sense” and in other circumstances, New Zealand will “do things under our own steam”, according to the New Zealand Herald.

However, while Key ruled out a scenario where the two countries would seek a joint, formal free trade agreement with Britain because of differences between the two economies, he said Australia and New Zealand could “piggy-back each other” in trade discussions.

“Where there are similarities, we will probably be able to piggy-back each other,” he said.

Government urged to secure best outcome for Australian businesses

The federal government should not let the fallout of the “Brexit” decision become a distraction, according to CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley, who told SmartCompany Australia should still be pursuing “an appropriate and enduring free trade agreement with the European Union”.

“Australia and New Zealand do have many interests in common, but as New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key said yesterday, it is not likely we would pursue a joint free trade agreement as we would be focusing on different things,” Malley says.

“Working with New Zealand may be of value, but our government needs to be focused on securing the best possible outcomes for Australian businesses and this may be best served by negotiating alone.”

Malley says the European market is “no small market” and so there is “real potential” for Australian businesses in that market.

“For example, we know our beef exporters, battling quota ceilings and restrictive new tariffs, stand to be the big beneficiaries of an EU free trade agreement,” he says.

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