THE Council of the European Union has agreed to open negotiations for the Australia-EU free trade agreement (FTA), opening the potential of increased agricultural exports to the EU.
Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud welcomed the announcement, saying it had the potential to open up lucrative premium markets to Australia’s fourth largest export destination.
“A high-quality trade deal with the EU could eliminate many tariffs and create new and better export opportunities across some of our biggest sectors including beef and sheepmeat, sugar, dairy, cotton, wool, rice, grains, horticulture and wine,” he said.
GrainGrowers’ trade and economics manager Luke Mathews said the EU was Australia’s largest canola export market and that a FTA would underpin ongoing strength in the relationship between the two economies.
“Australia has exported on average 1.6 million tonnes of canola to Europe in recent years, worth more than AUD$900 million per annum. In 2016 Europe accounted for 87 per cent of total Australian canola exports,” Mr Mathews said.
“Maintaining and expanding this trade with Europe is of critical importance to Australian farmers.”
GrainGrowers is urging the Australian Government to negotiate a comprehensive and high-quality trade agreement with the EU that improves market access and facilitates efficient trade.
“The FTA needs to reinforce support for an effective rules-based trading system,” Mr Mathews said.
“It is crucial that all non-tariff measures that are put in place to protect ecoysystems and plant and animal health are based on sound science and existing international standards.”
Sources: Minister for Agriculture, GrainGrowers