Trade in Legal Services under an Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement
The European Union (EU) is a significant market for Australian legal services providers.
Over the last decade, around 25% of Australia’s legal services exports have been to the EU. This is Australia’s second largest destination for legal services exports after North America (the United States and Canada).
However, the current size of the European market for Australian legal services exports and the prospect of growing that market further, are not the only reasons to negotiate improved access for providers of legal services, should Australia and the EU agree to commence Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement (A-EUFTA).
Trade cannot take place in a legal vacuum. The availability of legal services covering the laws of multiple jurisdictions facilitates and encourages trade and investment throughout the entire economy. Lawyers help to establish trade and investment by:
• advising clients about cross-border business opportunities and legal issues,
• reducing investment risk, for example by providing effective contracts, and
• delivering remedies should things go wrong.
Improving market access for Australian lawyers to follow their clients into the EU would better facilitate and underpin two-way trade across all goods and services sectors.
Therefore, in order to maximise the ongoing benefit of an A-EUFTA, strong and meaningful market access commitments for providers of legal services must be a priority if and when A-EUFTA negotiations go ahead.