World

The Brief: Australia optimistic over potential of EU trade deal

Australia has been talking up a potential trade deal with the European Union.

Canberra and Brussels began talks in May 2018 and both sides of the negotiating table have clear demands.

“We want better access in terms for Australian farmers and businesses into the EU,” said Simon Birmingham, Australia’s trade minister.

“They want some particular terms protected for their products.”

“There’s enormous potential upside with the EU negotiations. It’s a market of more than 500 million people, already our third-largest export market despite very heavy restrictions we face in terms of tariffs and quotas on our exports into the EU.”

If a deal is agreed, the EU wants more than 400 product names protected, such as Feta or Gorgonzola cheese. The list of products has already been announced.

The bilateral trade between the two blocs is worth more than €45 billion a year. Goods represent around €19 billion and services €20 billion.

According to the EU, if this new trade deal is concluded, the numbers could increase by 37% in terms of goods and 8% in services.

The removal of customs duties and better access to government contracts in Australia would benefit various European businesses, especially those in the machinery, chemicals, electronics, metals or the food and drink sectors.

In her published guidelines, the future president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed the will “to swiftly conclude the ongoing negotiations with Australia”.

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