THE launch of Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement negotiations today by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, trade minister Steven Ciobo the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, has been welcomed by the Australian red meat industry.
Chair of the Australia-EU Red Meat Market Access Taskforce, Jason Strong, said the announcement was a positive first step in seeking to improve market access arrangements with a long-term customer of Australian beef and sheepmeat.
“The launch of FTA negotiations with the EU provides a significant opportunity to revisit Australia’s red meat access to the European market for the first time in over forty years,” Mr Strong said.
The EU was a major consumer of imported meat – with the European Commission identifying an ongoing requirement for both imported beef and sheepmeat due to deficits in domestic supply, he said.
“While Australia is ideally positioned to help service this market requirement via dedicated supply chains, our access is limited by the EU’s highly restrictive import regime.
“Compared with many other countries supplying the EU, Australia experiences disproportionately low volume quotas, high duties within certain quotas and trade prohibitive above quota tariffs,” Mr Strong said.
For beef, Australia currently has access to a country specific quota of only 7150 tonnes, as well as shared access to a 45,000t global grainfed beef quota. In combination these represent a meagre 0.2pc of total EU beef consumption.
For sheepmeat/goatmeat, Australia’s country-specific quota is currently just 19,186t or less than 2pc of total EU sheepmeat consumption.
“Australia’s trading relationship with the EU is based on shared values and is heavily focussed on meeting EU customer demand for high quality red meat products,” Mr Strong said.
He said the taskforce was encouraged by the Australian Government’s commitment that it would seek an ambitious and comprehensive FTA with the EU, prioritising enhanced access for agricultural products, including Australian red meat.
“We look forward to working closely with Australia’s negotiating team to deliver the best possible result for Australian red meat producers, processors and exporters,” Mr Strong said.
Source: Joint industry sector statement, released through MLA