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Adam Smith Inst - Aussies & Brits tell Govts: Get trade deal done

A new poll from the free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute (ASI) and research and strategy firm at C|T Group RSR has found Brits and Australians want to expand trade and secure a comprehensive deal. 

  • 65% of Brits support a free trade deal with Australia, 5% are opposed; there is majority support across all key demographic groups across the United Kingdom, and across the political spectrum.
  • 69% of Aussies support a free trade deal, 3% are opposed

Leading pollster and Head of Research at C|T Group RSR, Dr Michael Turner, found that Australia is the foremost priority to expand trade among Brits. This comes from a strong belief in Australia’s high standards, that a deal will benefit both sides as well as the close family and friendship connections between Brits and Aussies. 

  • Two-thirds of Brits (66%) believe Australia has high standards of food safety and animal welfare, just 6% of people believe Australia has low standards
  • Australia is the top priority for more trade for Brits, with two-thirds (66%) of Brits saying the UK should trade more with Australia; followed by Canada (63%), New Zealand (61%), the United States (48%) and Japan (42%)
  • 72% of Aussies want Australia to be trading more with the UK
  • 74% of Brits believe both countries will benefit from a free trade deal
  • 73% of Aussies believe that both sides will benefit

Brits back a tariff-free deal that allows consumers to access a wider range of goods, recognises nursing qualifications without retraining and allows more people to live and work across countries. Brits want to see more jobs created, British businesses become more internationally competitive, and reduce barriers to investment.

  • 91% of Brits would feel comfortable being treated by an Australian nurse, 73% believe that nurse should not have to requalify before practicing in the UK
  • 62% of Brits believe it should be easier to move between countries, 8% think it shouldn't be easier

There is also substantial interest among Brits in consuming more Australian goods, and among Aussies in consuming more British goods.

  • A majority of Brits say they would buy more Australian wine (57%), beef (52%) and lamb (50%) if it were stocked more frequently. There is also interest in purchasing Anzac biscuits (33%), Tim Tams (28%), Kangaroo meat (23%), vegemite (23%) and lamingtons (20%).
  • Australians are interested in purchasing more British goods if they were stocked more frequently and cheaply, including shortbread (59%), British cheese (53%), jam and marmalade (51%), Cornish pasty (47%), Scottish whisky (45%), Yorkshire tea (41%), gin (36%), Marmite (25%) and Irn Bru (22%). 
  • 68% of Aussies would consider purchasing a British-manufactured car

MYTHBUSTING: The efforts of a vocal pressure group to scupper the deal to protect British farmers has not resonated with the public. The British people back British farmers to compete globally. If the deal does go ahead, Brits want a short transition period and do not consider protecting farmers to be a reason worth blocking the deal.

  • 63% would support a trade deal with Australia even if it means that increased competition would reduce profits for British farmers and some might go out of business; just 20% would prefer to block a deal to prevent British farmers having more competition
  • 64% believe British farmers should compete on an equal basis with foreign imports of the same standards; 52% believe they should not be denied access to Australian farming goods produced at a lower price
  • 68% of people think that the transition period on beef and lamb should be 2 years or less

If push came to shove, most Brits say that they would prefer to trade with Australia over the European Union, and more than four-fifths of voters feel that trade with Australia should be at least as easy as it is with the EU. 

  • 84% believe Australia should be able to trade with the UK more easily, or just as easily, than the EU
  • 52% would opt for Australian beef as an alternative to British beef, just 24% would opt for EU beef

Australians prioritise diversifying trade away from China, and a clear majority say that Australia should increase links with like-minded countries like the UK.

  • 54% of Australians would prioritize expanding trade with UK, compared to 4% that want to prioritise China and 31% who say both
  • 77% of Aussies believe it is essential that Australia trades more freely with its closest allies

 Michael Turner, report co-author, Head of Research (Director) at C|T Group RSR and a Fellow of the ASI, said:

“This research not only shows that Brits believe in the core benefits of free trade. From Tim Tams to Cornish pasties, Aussie beef to British cheese, the results show consumers in both countries have a healthy and reciprocal appetite to consume goods made in each other's countries.

“Contrary to the popular narrative of the inward-looking and protectionist Brexit voter, this research shows that the overwhelming majority of those who voted to Leave the EU in 2016, are in fact supportive of a more outwardly-focused and freely trading Britain post-Brexit.

“Four in five Brits agree that a successful domestic industry requires more global trade, not less. This UK-Australia trade deal should be, as the Aussies say: ‘no wuckas mate.’”

Matthew Lesh, report co-author and Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, said:

“The Australia-United Kingdom trade deal isn’t some distant elite project. It is deeply supported by Brits and Aussies. 

“The British public have little interest in the pronouncements of self-interested lobbyists that want to restrict them from accessing Aussie produce. From Australian wine, beef and Tim Tams to Scottish whisky and UK cars, we want to eat and drink each other’s finest products. We want the ability to live and work in each other’s countries and to recognise our qualifications as equivalent.

“In an increasingly complex world, there’s a need for good mates not only to stick together but to become even closer. That’s what Australians and Brits want.

Notes to editors:  

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Matt Kilcoyne: | 07904 099599.

The report ‘Ever closer mates: The deep support for an UK-Australia trade deal’ is available here.

Dr Michael Turner is Head of Research (Director) at at C|T Group RSR and a Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Matthew Lesh is the Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute and an Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs (Australia)

The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, neoliberal think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

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