Home » Trade talks between EU and Australia resume on high note
Bilateral Relations Brussels Business Defence Democracy Diplomatics Economy Environment Europe European Union Featured Global News National Security News Politics World News

Trade talks between EU and Australia resume on high note

FILE PHOTO: Containers are piled up at Port Botany facilities in Sydney Australia, February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

London: Trade Minister Don Farrell said progress has been made during free trade deal negotiations with his EU counterpart on Thursday.

Farrell and EU’s Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis resumed discussions via video link after having agreed to reconvene in August following the deadlocked talks in July.

Both sides agreed to meet in person for the next round of negotiations but it was not clear whether this would take place in Australia or Europe.

“I thank my European counterpart for a productive meeting this week,” Farrell said.

“I look forward to seeing him again in person at the earliest opportunity.

“I’ve made our expectations clear on what it will take to finalise a trade agreement with the European Union – a better deal.

“We are making progress, but we need to bridge the gap between our expectations, and what the Europeans are offering.”

Both Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen want to strike a deal.

But agricultural access has remained a huge sticking point.

Farrell wants the EU to open its agricultural market to Australian farmers, a sensitive issue in Paris and Dublin. Ireland is worried it will lose its UK market share to Australia after the British agreed to eventually allow Australian beef and lamb to be exported in unlimited amounts.

This leaves Dombrovskis with little room to move, but Brussels wants access to Australia’s critical minerals to help reduce its dependencies on China as it transitions to net-zero.

Miriam Garcia-Ferrer, the EU’s trade spokeswoman hoped the talks would conclude in a deal soon.

“We have made progress on our FTA talks but more work is required to address key outstanding issues,” she said ahead of the meeting.

“At the last ministerial-level round of talks in July, there were several issues on which the Australian side required further internal consultations.

“We look forward to engaging with our Australian partners to conclude soon. As part of this ongoing effort, EVP Dombrovskis has agreed to speak with Minister Farrell over videoconference in order to hear from the Australian side on their internal consultations, which Minister Farrell indicated that he had to carry out after the conclusion of the last ministerial discussions in mid-July.”

Junior Trade Minister Tim Ayres met with an EU official in India at last week’s meeting of G20 trade ministers.

He said after that meeting that Europe would need to offer more to secure a deal.

“The Jaipur G20 meeting was an opportunity for me to underscore that with my friends from the European Union and to canvass some of the issues in terms of the substance and the process for how we approach upcoming discussions,” he told CNBC.

“I’m very pleased with the progress that’s been made so far in those negotiations, but as Don Farrell made very clear in Brussels, we need to see improvements in the EU’s offer around market access for agriculture.”

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald