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First post-Brexit trade agreements go live today

Today – 31 May 2023 – , the first post-Brexit trade deals go live, opening up import and export opportunities for businesses operating between the UK and Australia, and the UK and New Zealand. Not only are they the first deals in the post-Brexit era, but they are the first deals that have been negotiated by the UK completely from scratch.

The government expects bilateral trade to increase with Australia by 53% and New Zealand by 59% in the long term, driven by the removal of tariffs and the reduction of regulatory restrictions to goods and services.

Examples of the changes include more flexible rules of origin and easier travel rules for those wishing to conduct in-person business in both countries. Investment provisions have been liberalised so most UK foreign direct investments into Australia and New Zealand save for those in sensitive sectors will not be subject to review, and vice versa. Customs documentation will also be simplified to allow for efficient movement of goods at the border.

Anecdotally, IoD members have varied perspectives on free trade agreements (FTAs). For more experienced exporters with firmly established global links, FTAs are convenient in that they remove barriers to trade, but they will not sway a decision on which market a business chooses to expand to.

On the other end of the spectrum, smaller businesses have told us they are disincentivised from trade beyond the EU for multiple reasons. Firstly, FTAs are hugely long and complex documents that can be difficult to break down and comprehend. Secondly, for a small business without infinite resource and funds, researching new markets, making new connections, and then dedicating time to managing business activities that are multiple time zones away can be challenging.

But, especially now that Europe has become more difficult to conduct trade with, FTAs create alternative opportunities for all businesses. The deals with Australia and New Zealand include SME chapters that make it easier for small business to engage. Since the deals are only as good as the engagement they draw in, this type of support and guidance is central to their success.

The IoD is encouraging the government to monitor implementation rates following ratification of these agreements to assess their effectiveness, identify best practice, and hold themselves to account on how impactful the deals really are. Future deals, business support, and guidance can then be optimised from the insight collected.

To find out more about the deals and the opportunities out there, check out the useful links below:

An exporting guide to Australia

UK-Australia free trade agreement guidance

An exporting guide to New Zealand

UK-New Zealand free trade agreement guidance

Export opportunities in Australia and New Zealand

The Export Support Service for advice on exporting to new markets.

Better directors for a better world

The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.

Doing business after Brexit

Browse valuable EU and trade resources from the IoD.
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