UK-Australia FTA: what’s in it for tech?

On 16 December, the UK has signed its first post-Brexit free trade agreement with Australia. The main elements of the deal were agreed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in June, and the final deal was signed in a virtual ceremony by International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan last night. The final deal will now be laid in Parliament for a period of scrutiny. You can find the full text of the agreement here.

What’s in it for the tech sector?

The digital trade chapter is very strong. It goes a lot further than existing precedent contained in UK-Japan CEPA, and in the other roll over agreements.

The chapter ensures the free flow of trusted data and standards for personal data protection. The two countries have agreed advanced provisions on digital trade, with a ban on data localisation requirements or requirements to transfer source code.

It also ensures the legal recognition of electronic contracts, signatures and various electronic trust services.

There are also provisions on regulatory cooperation in digital identities to promote compatibility, as well as provisions committing parties to open government data.

On data innovation, there are several interesting commitments on cooperation on data-sharing projects, regulatory cooperation on data mobility and sharing research and best practice.

The two governments pledge to “support innovation in their respective economies, including by fostering opportunities in innovation-intensive industries and encouraging trade in innovative goods and services”.

The chapter provided a mechanism for the UK and Australia to discuss the impact of innovation on trade, including on regulatory approaches, commercialisation of new technologies and supply chain resilience.

The agreement will make it easier for UK service providers to do business in Australia. For the first time, Australia has signed a free trade agreement which opens up its services sector at federal, state and territory level.

The agreement also contains a dedicated financial services chapter, and a chapter covering mutual recognition of professional qualifications – in which the focus is on “encouraging” relevant professional bodies to operate mutual recognition systems in their own sectors. The chapter also establishes a legal services regulatory dialogue. For example, this contains provisions that ensure UK lawyers can continue to practice foreign and international law in Australia, using their ‘home’ title and qualification.

The agreement establishes that executives located in one nation can relocate to the other’s territory for up to four years – double the period currently allowed – and that they may bring their spouses and children with them.

There is also a separate agreement that young Britons and Australians under the age of 35 may live and work in each other’s territories for up to three years.

This chapter contains provisions that commit to ensuring service suppliers have access to public telecommunications networks on a timely, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis.

It also commits the two countries to work together on security and diversification in the telecommunications sector, including on infrastructure and technologies.

If members have questions about the content of this agreement and what it means for specific business models, please reach out to [email protected]


Sabina Ciofu

Sabina Ciofu

Associate Director – International, techUK

Sabina Ciofu is Associate Director – International, running the International Policy and Trade Programme at techUK.

Based in Brussels, she leads our EU policy and engagement. She is also our lead on international trade policy, with a focus on digital trade chapter in FTAs, regulatory cooperation as well as broader engagement with the G7, G20, WTO and OECD.

As a transatlanticist at heart, Sabina is a GMF Marshall Memorial fellow and issue-lead on the EU-US Trade and Technology Council, within DigitalEurope.

Previously, she worked as Policy Advisor to a Member of the European Parliament for almost a decade, where she specialised in tech regulation, international trade and EU-US relations.

Sabina loves building communities and bringing people together. She is the founder of the Gentlewomen’s Club and co-organiser of the Young Professionals in Digital Policy. Previously, as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community, she led several youth civic engagement and gender equality projects.

She sits on the Advisory Board of the University College London European Institute, Café Transatlantique, a network of women in transatlantic technology policy and The Nine, Brussels’ first members-only club designed for women.

Sabina holds an MA in War Studies from King’s College London and a BA in Classics from the University of Cambridge.

[email protected]
+32 473 323 280

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