Britain must QUIT customs union

Britain must QUIT customs union for better trade and growth after Brexit warns Australia

BRITAIN must quit the EU’s customs union to ensure trade with Australia and other powerhouse economies grows “substantially” after Brexit, a senior diplomat said today.

Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer predicted that a bilateral trade deal between the UK and his nation could bring huge benefits for both countries including slashing the cost of food, clothing and other consumer goods.

But he warned that such an agreement is only possible if Theresa May’s Government regains full control of trade policy through a clean break with Brussels.

He said: “We want to build back our trade with the UK.

“We could build substantially more trade if we were able to negotiate a free trade agreement with the UK.”

His remarks, in a BBC interview today, were being seen last night as another massive boost to the Prime Minister’s efforts to forge new trading partnerships around the world after Brexit.

And his warnings about an EU customs union are certain to be seized upon by Brexit enthusiasts fighting attempts by hard-line Remainers to keep the UK firmly tied to Brussels.

Mr Downer, speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, said Australia’s 26 consecutive years of economic growth showed that reducing and removing tariffs on trade had a “substantial and very positive” impact.

He said: “From Australia’s point of view here’s what we would like to see coming out of the Brexit debate.

“Number one, we naturally don’t want to see the EU and the UK introduce a whole lot of tariff barriers between them.

“There are none at the moment – we don’t want to see that introduced.”

“That would be damaging to the European and British economies but damaging to the global economy – that’s what we are worried about.

“Number two, we do want to trade with the UK, and we want to build back our trade with the UK.

“We could build substantially more trade if we were able to negotiate a free trade agreement with the UK.

“If you remain in the customs union then you would have no control over an independent trade policy. In fact you’d have no control over trade policy at all.

“Countries like Australia, China, Japan, the US and so on would not be able to conduct trade negotiations with the UK, we would only conduct trade negotiations with the EU.

“You wouldn’t be relevant to that, because you wouldn’t have a say in those negotiations, they would be exclusively conducted by the EU.”

Mr Downer said Australia’s experience since the mid-1980s showed the “huge advantages of unilateral trade liberalisation”.

He said: “The fact is that it does lead to some economic restructuring, some redirection of investment.

“But having said that it contributes to economic reform, and you need a constant process of economic reform to achieve high rates of economic growth.

“It’s worked for us. We’ve had 26 consecutive years of economic growth, partly because we’ve opened our market to the world.”

Unilateral reduction of tariffs had “a substantial and very positive effect on your economy”, said Mr Downer.

And the policy was “progressive” because it reduced the price of imported food, clothing and footwear, on which lower-income households spent a relatively large proportion of their income.

Australia is already a larger export market for UK companies than India or Canada while Britain is the second-largest investor down under after the US.

His words were echoed by the boss of oil giant BP today.

Bob Dudley, an American who is one of the most senior figures in British business, said: “There are a lot of countries around the world that would like trade deals with Britain bilaterally down the road, I hear that a lot.”

“I don’t think British influence is diminished. BP works all over the world and I see the importance of Britain in what we do and how they view BP.”

Official figures show that trade in goods and services was worth more than £13.1billion during 2016.

UK exports to Australia increased by 3 per cent to £8.6 billion during that year.

Australia invested in 108 projects in the UK last year, 11 per cent more than the previous year and creating more than 1,750 British jobs.

Yet supporters of a UK-Australia trade deal are convinced commercial links between the two countries can soar after Brexit as long as Britain quits the EU customs union.

Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, chairman of the Commons All-Party Group on Australia and New Zealand, said: “High Commissioner Downer is highly experienced and giving us the benefit of his perspective.

“Ministers from the Cabinet down would do very well to listen to his advice – it is very positive.

“Britain leaving the EU is going to give us enormous opportunities, particularly with the Commonwealth and the English-speaking world.

Mr Rosindell added: “Being in a customs union with the EU would be absolutely the worst of all possible worlds for this country.

“It would mean we would be tied into EU bureaucracy and red tape, restriced by their economic interests and protectionist attitudes while not being free to sign our own trade deals.”

WE SHOULD HAVE TARIIFFS ON ALL GERMAN AND FRENCH IMPORTS AND NO FREE TRADE. THE EU OWES US MONEY SO WHY IS UK GIVING EU MONEY? WHEN A COMPANY SPLITS YOU DIVIDE THE ASSETS. UK PAID FOR A LOT OF EU BUILDINGS AND INFRASTRUCTURE. THEIR COMPUTERS AND SOFTWARE AND TRANSLATORS. ART ON WALLS. WINE IN CELLARS. MEP’S CAN’T EVEN MAKE LAWS AND EU NEVER HAD A BUDGET AUDITED. MEP’S GIVEN CREDIT CARDS FOR EXPENSES BUT NEVER HAD TO SHOW WHERE MONEY WAS SPENT. THEN 2 EU PARLIAMENTS TRANSPORTING MILLIONS OF DOCUMENTS AND COSTING A FORTUNE. UK HAS HAD TO KEEP EU CROOKS IN OUR JAILS. WE HAVE HAD FISH ROBBED FROM OUR SEAS. EU HAS LET IN MILLIONS OF ECONOMIC MIGRANTS FROM ARAB / AFRICANS LANDS ALL TO FURTHER KALERGI PLAN AND GENOCIDE OF WHITE EUROPEANS.

 

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