Australia looks to free trade deal with EU

James Nason, 06/06/2023

This article has been amended after publishing to provide updated details on current EU tariff quota restrictions on Australian red meat imports


Fresh from the May 31 implementation of Australia’s free trade deal with the United Kingdom, a flying visit by senior Australian trade representatives this week has shifted focus to long-running trade negotiations with the European Union.

Federal Trade Minister Don Farrell is visiting Belgium and France this week, meeting with high level European Commission executives to progress negotiations for an Australian-EU trade deal.

Assistant Minister for Trade, Senator Tim Ayres, who is travelling with Minister Farrell, told The Australian newspaper that an EU trade deal is “pretty close” with a “lot of momentum behind it”, despite there being some sticking points in relation to French farmers and agriculture.

Bloomberg news reported that both sides (Australia and Europe) have signalled a trade deal may be completed by the end of the European summer.

Andrew McDonald, the Australian red meat industry’s spokesperson on EU FTA negotiations, told Beef Central the increase in commentary suggesting an outcome soon is positive, but it remains to be seen how these negotiations will impact the red meat sector.

Australian beef, sheepmeat and goatmeat exports to Europe have been significantly constrained by EU tariff quotas in the past.

For a long period Australian exporters had 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 insignificant proportions of the EU’s ongoing imported meat requirements.

Australia’s EU access was further altered as a result of the division of WTO quotas between the EU/UK post-Brexit.

As a result, Australia’s EU market access is as follows: 3389t beef quota (20% in quota tariff) and 5851t sheepmeat/goatmeat quota. The remainder of the original quotas were allocated to the UK.

Under the recently implemented trade agreement between Australian and the United Kingdom, Australia’s tariff-free beef quota access to the UK will build from 35,000t per year to 170,000t by 2037.

Mary Johnson, MLA Market Access Manager, Europe, said A-UK FTA represents a tremendous opportunity for Australia’s red meat sector to modernise its relationship for the future, with more streamlined trade and reduced supply chain costs.

“The FTA with the UK will also go a long way to helping achieve industry’s goal of doubling the value of Australian red meat sales by 2030, as well as securing increased preferential access to key export markets.

“Access to new markets and boosting performance in existing ones like in the UK will also help ensure the sustainability and resilience of the Australian red meat industry during this decade and beyond.”



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