After a chaotic few days in which the British Parliament roundly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal, Mr Morrison said Australia had been “assiduously” readying itself for all outcomes.
“Australians should feel very reassured that a safe and steady pair of hands has been managing what is a very uncertain and unstable set of arrangements. We have continued to do that, to pursue Australia’s interests in all the scenarios,” he said.
“But it does highlight the impacts of global uncertainty in the economy. Now, we’re already seeing some real tensions when it comes to trade … And in 2019 the global economy is facing more uncertainty than it was this time last year.”
James Pearson, chief executive officer of the ACCI, said he was confident Australian firms had been preparing for this moment but whatever the outcome, Britain would still need to trade and invest.
“The fundamentals of the British economy won’t change. They will still need to trade, they will still need to invest and receive investment, so for Australian firms, there is going to be opportunity in whatever comes out but clearly there’ll be risk as well,” he said.
British government officials and business leaders had made it clear to ACCI that “they are looking for a closer economic and commercial relationship with Australia no matter what the outcome”.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Australia needed to maintain good relationships both with Britain and Europe to get advantages for Australian businesses.
“It’s not good for I think, the British people. But for us there may be opportunities on both sides of the English Channel for more trade,” he said.
Economist Tim Harcourt of the University of NSW’s business school said a so-called “hard Brexit” in which Britain leaves the EU at the end of March without a deal in place, risked serious consequences for Europe and hence the world economy.
“Leaving the European Union without a divorce deal could plunge Britain into its deepest recession in nearly a century,” he says. “That should make everyone around the world pay attention.”
Autralia economy news