The Independent has always been strongly in favour of free trade. Provided it is underpinned by rules to protect human rights and the environment, trade is a liberating engine of prosperity. For that reason we warmly welcome the UK-Australia trade agreement – while roundly condemning the British government that negotiated it.
In accordance with conventional economic theory, the UK-Australia deal is in our mutual interests. Trade benefits both parties, which is why it happens, and making it easier means greater potential benefit for both sides. Removing tariffs and restrictions is generally a good thing. Free movement of people, or freer movement, is also a good thing; and so the proposals to make it easier for young people to travel and work in the two countries are also welcome.
Some critics might point out that the estimated benefits to the UK of the deal, which is some months from being finalised, amount to just two hundredths of 1 per cent of our national income over a 15-year period. This is too negative. What matters is the principle, and the principle of removing barriers to trade and free movement is a good one.
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