Both Australia and New Zealand announced Wednesday they are starting free-trade talks with the United Kingdom, as each country seeks to rekindle a trading relationship that was severely tested nearly 50 years ago.
The U.K. wants to quickly sign multiple trade deals with individual countries after leaving the European Union in January. But some people Down Under still feel a deep sense of betrayal at the way the U.K. suddenly cut back its trade with them when it first joined the European market in 1973.
“There is no doubt Australia was a casualty from the U.K.’s entry into the European Economic Community,” Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told reporters. “In 1973, the U.K. was Australia’s third-largest two-way goods partner. Now it is our 12th. U.K. consumers turned away from Australian produce when high tariffs and low quotas were imposed.”