How Tony Abbott looks misplaced about WTO Brexit?

Last updated on November 11th, 2018

With the deadline for the official Brexit looming in (March 29, 2019 11 pm to be exact), more and more views from different parties are being heard. At the forefront is Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. He is very much on the side of the UK leaving the European Union.

Implications of Brexit on the UK

According to Tony Abbott, Brexit is a brilliant opportunity for Britain and the world. He fully believes that the UK does not need a customs union, which he termed as “shackles”, to prosper. Once free from EU rules and regulations, Britain would go back to world trade, with rules agreed upon by the World Trade Organization.

Brexit for the UK, according to Abbott:

  • Britain can make its own rules and can choose to not impose tariffs or quotas on European produce and can recognize all EU product standards
  • No border control for trade between Europe and Britain
  • Europeans already living in the UK and Britons living in other parts of EU would get to remain where they are and can even be offered citizenship
  • There would still be free movement across borders but with added conditions for those choosing to migrate for work purposes. It must just be ensured that no British workers will lose their jobs in the process
  • No “divorce bill” or fee will be paid to Brussels. There should be no amount that UK will pay to the EU for leaving because the former government would continue to shoulder the latter’s property and liabilities in Britain and vice versa
  • No need for a border to be formed between Britain and Ireland

With all of these implications stated above, some favoring one party more than the other, it is understandable why the transition period is taking two years or more.

Australia and the UK

Of course, Abbott does not merely cover the effects of Brexit on the UK but also on other countries of the world, specifically, Australia. The coming of the Britain-Australia Free Trade Agreement would result to:

  • Increase in trade opportunities between the two countries without hurting anyone else
  • The policy of tariffs will also be imposed. And this agreement will have no strings attached
  • Full recognition of the credentials and standards of the parties involved

Abbott is fully confident on the success of Brexit and the repercussions it will have with Australia because of the history and similarity in culture that the two countries share. He even sees this as a template or a stepping-stone to further enhance trade with New Zealand and Singapore.

Contradictions towards Tony Abbott’s position

Now on to the other side: the opposition. With such positive views on Brexit and free trade, figures such as David Woodhead deems this view of Abbott as misguided and even hypocritical.

“Mr. Abbott’s disingenuous article recommending World Trade Organisation rules for post-Brexit UK trade failed to mention the rather important detail that no WTO member trades solely on that basis. The WTO itself says all its members have some sort of bilateral or regional trade agreements in place. Australia itself has agreements with China, Japan, the USA, South Korea, New Zealand, and many others. That is just one reason why the EU single market makes sense for the UK.”

Free trade, not so free trade, regional trade agreements or the lack thereof, one thing is for sure – Brexit is not a task to be achieved overnight and not all parties can be appeased

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