SMEs generally face greater effects of trade barriers than large firms, as large firms are better able to exert influence or use economies of scale to reduce the costs and risks associated with internationalisation. This is particularly the case where trade barriers represent fixed costs for businesses, as compliance with control and NTM facilities can be a burden. In September 2018, DIT launched a representative UK public opinion survey to examine public attitudes towards trade and to understand the public`s trade policy priorities and understand how they can change over time. [footnote 53] This showed that 70% of British public opinion supports the UK`s establishment of a free trade agreement with Australia, with the rest saying that they do not support or oppose it (13%), that they do not know it (13%) or that they oppose the creation by the UK of a free trade agreement with Australia (5%). [footnote 54] Respondents recognized the importance of services in trade agreements spanning several sectors, including professional and financial services. Feedback has been largely sectoral, with comments on the specific needs of these sectors. For financial services, respondents covered a wide range of sub-sectors, including asset management, banking, insurance, financial technology (FinTech), green finance and infrastructure finance. The importance of MRPQ was emphasized. Respondents also highlighted the need for free trade agreements that prioritize the movement of skilled labour and allow companies to access the best talent.
Relevant comments on public services, including the NHS, have also been discussed in the consultation sections on investment and public procurement, but have been taken into account in this section. The Government can strive to maximise the UK`s access to Australian markets through a number of channels and to ensure that a free trade agreement between the UK and Australia is beneficial to both parties. This will likely involve seeking additional access obligations to Australia`s market; Removal of specific barriers to public procurement that are not yet addressed in the GPA, to ensure better access for UK businesses and to ensure that the procurement process in Australia is simple, fair, open, transparent and accessible to all potential suppliers, in particular SMEs. A future free trade agreement between the UK and Australia could have a positive impact on trade in services between the two countries A recurring topic of feedback has been the need for a free flow of data, with respondents stressing the importance of effective data protection and the need to prevent data localisation. General support was given to global rather than national responses to the tax challenges posed by digitalisation and to the fact that rules on digital goods are not a barrier to trade. As regards telecom operators, many respondents wanted to improve non-discrimination clauses in order to protect net neutrality and ensure better competition in the market.. . . .