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送交者: 古宇庙 2017年01月10日10:40:48 于 [世界军事论坛] 发送悄悄话

Brexit: Tony Abbott calls on UK to 'seize its destiny', prioritise one-page FTA with Australia

BY POLITICAL REPORTER HENRY BELOT

Tony Abbott at the National Press Club.
PHOTO 

Tony Abbott wrote the foreword for a report urging the UK to prioritise deals with Commonwealth countries.

AAP: ALAN PORRITT

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has called on the United Kingdom to abandon the "statism and bureaucracy" of Europe and prioritise a one-page free trade agreement with Australia.

His comments came as Australian diplomats held "informal discussions" with their UK counterparts about preparations to leave the European Union, amid concerns the British lack negotiation experience.

In a foreword for a report by UK conservative politicians James Cleverly and Tim Hewish, Mr Abbott claimed "Britain was back" and ready to reclaim its status as a world leader.

"The country that gave the world the English language, common law and the mother of parliaments is once more to seize its destiny as a global leader," he said.

"If Britain is determined to make the most of Brexit — and everything about Prime Minister [Theresa] May shows this steely determination — why not strive for a one-page FTA with Australia?"

The report, published by the Free Enterprise Group, urged the UK to prioritise deals with Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

"If a car is fit to be sold in Britain, it's fit to be sold in Australia. If a doctor is fit to practise in Australia, he or she is fit to practise in the UK," Mr Abbott said.

He said the movement of goods between the two nations should be "absolutely free of tariffs or quotas".

"Provided people are coming to work rather than to take advantage of social security or health services, Australians should also be free to live in the UK and vice versa."

The two countries established a working group to fast track trade negotiations last year and will meet twice a year from early 2017. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has previously expressed confidence a strong free trade agreement will be established as Britain plans to leave the European Union (EU).

Labor MP Jason Clare said Mr Abbott's comments were a "warning shot" to the Turnbull Government.

"Tony Abbott's gratuitous advice to Malcolm Turnbull on the direction Australia should take on trade with the UK is another part of his job application to the conservative right of the Coalition," he said.

"Australia is a trading nation and our trading relationships are too important to our economy to be used as a pawn in the Liberal Party's leadership games."

No 'specific request' for help

Britain's former ambassador to the EU, Ivan Rogers, resigned earlier this month and raised concerns that serious multilateral negotiation experience was in short supply.

Similar concerns have been raised by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who told Reuters that the UK diplomats were slow to act given they had not led negotiations in years.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond has previously said he was willing to recruit Australians or Americans to bridge the skills gap.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said no specific request for assistance had been made by the UK, but diplomats continued to work together.

"The UK is still at the pre-trigger stage and much remains to be decided," she said.

"It is likely the UK will continue to assess its competencies throughout this period and beyond to enable it to deliver on core trade functions and policies once it leaves the EU.

"No specific requests for assistance have been made to Australia at this stage."

Late last year, Mr Turnbull said Australia had providing the UK with assistance to negotiate trade agreements.

"They haven't had to negotiate a trade agreement for over 40 years because they've been part of the European system," he said.

"So Theresa May is very grateful as she said for the assistance we've provided."


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