Australian companies ‘welcome’ Brexit talks
Companies in Australia are “welcome” to participate in the Brexit negotiations as part of a wider bid to ease the pressure on the government to find a long-term deal, Treasurer Joe Hockey has said.
“It is a great opportunity for the Australian people to hear from the world’s leading business leaders on the issues they care most about,” Mr Hockey told reporters on Wednesday, in comments that were greeted with some dismay in the trade and investment sector.
The comments come a day after the chief executive of Fox News, Bill Shine, said it would be “inevitable” for Australian companies to participate if the Government failed to deliver a deal by the end of March.
Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which also owns the ABC.
Mr Hockey said the Government would also “work with our industry partners to ensure that our businesses are included” in the negotiations.
Key points:The Treasurer said it was “very encouraging” to see some companies in Australia taking part in the talks:He said the government would also work with the sector to ensure it is included in the deal: The Government said it did not expect the negotiations to be concluded before the end-March deadline.
But Mr Hockey said he would not expect that to happen, adding that it was a “very long way off” and that “many people” in business were still “looking at the Brexit process”.
“This is a very difficult decision for the Government, and a difficult decision by our business community.
We are going to be listening to the industry and working with them to get a good outcome,” he said.”
It’s going to take a lot of hard work and patience.”
Mr Hockey also said the talks with the EU would continue, with a “constructive” discussion “in the months ahead”.
“The Australian Government will continue to engage and negotiate with the European Union,” he added.
“We want a constructive dialogue, we want to have good talks with other countries and with the United Kingdom.
It is the right thing to do.”
Mr Shine told the ABC on Tuesday that his company would “certainly be there” if the government did not achieve a deal and that it had “no doubt” it would get “good advice” from the Government.
“We’re certainly very pleased to see the Australian Government continue to talk to us,” he told the BBC.
Asked if Fox News had agreed to be included in negotiations, Mr Shine said it had not, but he acknowledged it had been an “unexpected surprise”.
Mr Shine said Fox News would continue to be part of the discussions, “at the right time”.
“We’ll be there with a constructive view,” he later told the broadcaster.
Australia’s trade union federation has been pushing for a deal for months.
Labor and the Greens have also repeatedly voiced concerns about the potential impact on the industry.
Earlier this month, the Federal Government said the country’s trade minister would be asked to set a timeframe for negotiating a deal, but it has not yet set one.
What are the key points of the EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement?
The EU-AUSTA FTA is a free trade agreement that is meant to ease tensions between the EU and the US and reduce the impact of tariffs and other trade barriers in Australia.
Under the deal, Australia is expected to pay an annual tariff of between 0.8% and 1.3% on imports from the EU, which is about half the average of its trade with the US.
US imports will be subject to tariffs ranging from 0.9% to 2.4% and imports from other countries will be assessed at a lower rate of 0.4%.
Australia will be allowed to negotiate tariffs on imported goods.
Australia is also expected to have to negotiate tariff-free trade deals with Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore, which are expected to be negotiated over several years.