NEGOTIATIONS over the Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement continue to build momentum, as shown by this week’s launch of public consultations on the use of Geographic Indications.
Chair of the Australia-EU Red Meat Market Access Taskforce, Andrew McDonald, said the announcement by the Australian Government regarding consultations on GIs (a Geographical Indication or ‘GI’ is an indication that identifies the product originating in a specific region or locality) was a positive sign that negotiations were progressing in a constructive manner.
“The Taskforce is an advocate of a comprehensive A-EU FTA and therefore endorses and welcomes the Government’s efforts to progress consultations that support these vitally important negotiations,” Mr McDonald said.
“Political leaders on both sides have recognised that discussions on agriculture and geographical indications will be among the most difficult aspects of the A-EU FTA negotiations.
“The EU has made it very clear that the protection of certain GIs is of utmost importance to their FTA ambitions. Our government and industry are similarly ambitious about getting the best possible market access outcome for Australian beef, sheepmeat and goatmeat.”
Australian beef, sheepmeat and goatmeat are currently significantly constrained by EU tariff quotas. In terms of country specific access, Australian exporters have only a 7150 tonne high quality beef quota (with a 20pc in quota tariff) and a 19,186t combined sheepmeat/goatmeat quota (0pc in quota tariff) – which represent tiny proportions of the EU’s ongoing imported meat requirements.
“We recognise there are many difficult discussions ahead, including those on market access for sensitive agricultural products – like beef and sheepmeat,” Mr McDonald said. “The launch of the GI consultation process paves the way for these discussions, hopefully in the not too distant future.”
The Australian-EU FTA was a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve our access to the European market that will provide benefits to European consumers and the Australian red meat supply chain alike, he said.
“The Taskforce looks forward to continuing to work with the Australian Government in pursuit of significantly improved market access with Europe.”
Members of the A-EU taskforce include: the Red Meat Advisory Council; Australian Livestock Exporters Council; Australian Lot Feeders Association; Australian Meat Industry Council; Cattle Council of Australia; Goat Industry Council of Australia; Sheep Producers Australia; Australian companies holding quota access to the EU; and industry service providers Meat & Livestock Australia and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation.