A new paper from Demos think tank (UK) in collaboration with The McKell Institute (Australia) highlights how an Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) could become a prototype for a more socially conscious era of free trade, which could help to anticipate and stem the protectionist trend sweeping many Western countries.
Since the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, there has been vocal support for a UK-Australia FTA, which could deliver symbolic, as well as economic, benefits. However, in a time of increasing social and economic insecurity, a protectionist agenda has been gaining traction, with many citizens becoming more sceptical about the benefits of free trade. There is an opportunity for both countries to take a proactive approach to this developing trend, designing an FTA that embeds a greater level of social, as well as economic, value.
The paper therefore argues that in addition to a focus on goods and services, an Australia-UK FTA should:

• further the rights and prospects of workers in both countries
• involve transparent communication from governments about any deal’s costs and benefits
• include provisions for trade in goods and services as well as investment and labour mobility
• avoid an investor-state dispute settlement system (ISDS) in order to maintain public support
• include environmental safeguards
• ensure standards of supply chain management to eradicate transgressions of workers’ rights and modern slavery

Read the paper in full here.