Australian trade minister rules out visa-free travel deal with UK

Source: Xinhua| 2020-01-08 13:51:18|Editor: zyl
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CANBERRA, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has ruled out visa-free travel and work arrangements with the United Kingdom (UK) as part of a post-Brexit free trade agreement (FTA).

The Guardian reported recently that Simon Birmingham has declared that he "can't imagine full and unfettered free movement" between the two countries.

Australia has a freedom of movement arrangement in place with New Zealand but Birmingham said that the government would not be using trade negotiations to institute a similar scheme with the UK.

"We're not into full negotiating mode and we will have to see what the UK aspires to, but noting that work rights and movement of people in the UK has been a big part of the European Union debate," Birmingham said.

"I would be surprised if complete liberalisation around migration and labour rights was on their agenda."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in December flagged accelerating FTA negotiations with the UK after Boris Johnson's Conservatives won re-election.

While he ruled out complete freedom of movement, Birmingham did say that Australia was open to changing immigration policies to allow "more flexibility."

"Negotiations for an FTA between Australia and the UK will prioritise enhancing trade with a market that is already our eighth-largest trading partner," he said.

"Work and visa settings may also form part of discussions but it is important to appreciate that there is a huge spectrum of grey between the black and white of no movement or unfettered movement."