The Australian government has signalled that it can conclude a trade deal with the United Kingdom after Brexit in a matter of months.
Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner in London, reminded the Institute for Free Trade that his country had been able to negotiate an agreement with the United States in just 15 months, The Sun reports.
The European Union does not allow its member-states to conduct their own trade policy, managing it on their behalf through the Customs Union and Common Commercial Policy. Its officials adopt an attitude described by Mr. Downer as “preposterously protectionist”, which has prevented Britain from enjoying free trade with major partners including not just Australia, but also the United States, New Zealand, and — until recently — Canada.
The deals the EU does negotiate tend not to secure much in the way of access for services, which are hugely important to the UK but less so for the wider EU, so eurocrats tend not to put much emphasis on them.
— Daily&SundayPolitics (@daily_politics) December 18, 2016
Mr. Downer also took aim at the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), blasting it as “hugely damaging to global agriculture” and stating in no uncertain terms that it has done “far more harm than good”.
The EU wields a huge degree of power over the management of farming in its member-states through the CAP — and the list of criticisms of it is extremely long.
Detractors have pointed out that it increases food prices in Europe, impoverishes hundreds of thousands in poor countries, and encouraged environmental degradation which damages landscapes and increases flooding.
EU is, in fact, dreadful at negotiating trade deals – and bars members from making their own. Holds UK back in Australia, New Zealand, etc. pic.twitter.com/LSPsQKVJXT
— Jack Montgomery ن (@JackBMontgomery) July 7, 2017
Some EU loyalists, such as Welsh First Minister and former Remain campaigner Carwyn Jones, have tried to suggest that trading freely with Australia and New Zealand would see beef and lamb from those countries — a very common sight in Britain before it joined the EU (EEC) in the 1970s — flood the market and destroy local farming.
Mr. Downer dismissed this scare story as a “fairy tale”, pointing out that the large volume of Australian produce soaked up by China and India leaves the country unable to deluge the UK.
“[T]hink about the punters and the producers, think about the voters,” he urged Brexit-supporting environment secretary Michael Gove, who introduced him at the event.
“They will be better off.”