While Brexit talks go back and forth, with discussions on the brink, Boris Johnson has continually told the nation to “get ready” ” for an “Australia solution” to the post-Brexit trade talks with the European Union.

But what does this actually mean, and is it the same as a no-deal Brexit?

Here’s how an Australian-style model could impact the UK.

Australia and the EU signed a "framework agreement" in 2017, adding on to an agreement signed which established a general principle of co-operation on areas including trade, foreign policy and security, development and humanitarian issues a decade before.

Is it the same as no-deal?

Australia does not have a free trade agreement with the Brussels bloc, so the bulk of its trade is carried out on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms. Thus according to many critics, it would represent a no-deal outcome with the UK’s largest trading partner. Australia deal with the EU is not a committed deal but rather one of good intent. As such some critics have said using the term "Australia-style" arrangement is simply a more palatable way of saying "no deal".

While Australia does not have a free trade agreement in place with Brussels, it does have a series of agreements on trade and other areas. An example of this is Australia’s agreements with the EU on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and scientific co-operation.

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What would the economic impact be?

If the UK followed suit at the end of the transition period on January 1, following WTO rules it would result in tariffs being placed on many goods traded between the UK and the EU, with the addition of some quota restrictions and customs checks.

The UK and the EU trade far more with each other than Europe and Australia do and cross-Channel trade would consist of more complex manufactured goods, compared with Australia’s exports which are focused on raw materials. With more trade with the EU than Australia has, an Australian model may not be as beneficial for the UK. 

The UK, for example, trades more than half of its goods into Europe, compared with just 11% for the southern hemisphere country.

Does the Australian model with the EU work for Australia?

Critics of Boris Johnson and his government have highlighted that while his administration has been espousing the virtues of trading with Brussels on similar terms to Australia, the Commonwealth nation is in the process of attempting to negotiate better arrangements with the EU.

Carl Bildt, co-chairman of the European Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted: “Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks about an Australia situation which he means no-deal with the EU.

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“He probably thinks it sounds better like that. Someone should tell him that Australia is actually busy negotiating a trade deal with the EU.”

Australia has been striving for a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU since July 2018.