CANZUK is a Can-do

There are reports that Britain will strike a trade deal with Japan in a matter of days. This is fantastic news. As someone who supported Britain’s exit from the EU for trade reasons reports, and in some case rumours, or Britain’s next trade deals are music to my ears. Once a trade deal is signed off with Japan, and we can have a wonderful supply of all the magnificent products Japan has to offer, surely the next essential agreement must be CANZUK.

This is a new era for Britain, we are no longer restricted to the detrimental tariff systems that restricted Britain’s access to some of the top emerging markets in the world. But we must also have strong, comprehensive trade agreements with the world’s top economies such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This coupled with trade agreements with Japan, and hopefully, the US in the near future will put the UK in a monumental position in global economic affairs. Not only in economic ways, but greater trade with Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US will bolster the UK’s diplomatic position.

The UK’s commitment to global trade is already enormous. As soon as the United Kingdom leaves the restrictive pillars of the European Union, the government cut the tariff rate to one that is far lower than the EU’s common external tariff rates. The government have already said that this will make ‘it easier and cheaper for businesses to import goods from overseas.’ Ideas that Brexit was an isolationist idea are proved wrong by one single line.

Australia’s PM Scott Morrison has spoken of his keen desire to close a bilateral agreement with the UK within 12 months. UK-Canada trade has already increased 14% in the past year due to CETA, emphasising the clear benefit that removal of any tariffs or trade restrictions have for the UK and Canada. New Zealand’s David Parker, the Minister for Trade, has spoken of the need to reach a deal with the UK almost immediately. The intent is clearly there, and the necessity is too. It is evident that trade will increase, this will be beneficial for all four nations. Recent opinion polls show that more than eight-in-ten Kiwis, around three-quarters of Canadians and Australians, and little under two-thirds of Brits support the idea of a free-trade agreement between the four nations.

It is essential, however, that CANZUK becomes a single market, not a customs union. CANZUK needs to be a continuous project with the chance to bring other nations into this trade agreement. If it were to be a customs union, the project would be destroyed before it even starts. Common external tariffs are an odious ideology that detriments all members in different ways. This should be avoided at all costs.

The Australian and New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement could be the basis for CANZUK. All tariffs were removed in 1990 and trade between the two nations flourished. But the geography of this trade agreement would be something incredibly new to the world. A single market that crosses oceans and unites even further the four most progressive, tolerant and diverse nations on Earth and will increase opportunities for people in all these nations.

This deal would work due to the socio-economic similarities of the four nations. The lowest unemployment rate out of the nations is the UK’s 4.8% with the highest being Canada’s 7.1%. All the nations inflation rates are below 2%. All GDP per capita’s are above $35,000. These statistics show that citizens from each country would find it easy to integrate into one of the other nations; finding work would be a doddle as would finding housing. Access to healthcare is similar, as well. The ability to have a high quality of life is equal in all four nations, something that the EU lacked.

The CANZUK agreement must be a priority of the government. It is a deal that would be of immense benefit for all four nations. But why stop at four, why not allow Japanese or American access to the trade agreement. All I can say for the time being is that CANZUK is an absolute Can-do.

By T Nurcombe

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