AUSTRALIA, North Sydney. The Australian red meat industry welcomes the announcement by Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb that Australia and the European Union (EU) will begin procedures to secure a closer bilateral trade partnership – the precursor to launching formal free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between the two parties.
The commitment made by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Council Donald Tusk in the margins of the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, will see the EU undertake an impact assessment on the merits of an FTA with Australia. Both parties will also complete a scoping exercise to define the overall approach to potential negotiations.
The current Australia-EU trade and investment relationship is substantial - with Australia being a lucrative market for the EU and the balance of trade being in the EU’s favour. The EU is Australia’s second largest trading partner with two-way trade exceeding $80 billion.
Australia’s current beef and sheepmeat access to the EU is restricted by low volume import quotas and high above quota tariffs. A potential trade enhancing Australia-EU FTA will provide the opportunity to establish a commercially advantageous trading regime - not only for Australian businesses but also for EU importers, wholesalers, distributors, foodservice and retail operators. Importantly, it would facilitate a more unhindered response to future EU consumer demand.
According to the austalian meat industry, an ambitious Australia-EU FTA would boost trade growth, associated jobs and thus prosperity for both parties. The EU is seen as a natural trade partner and there is hope that FTA negotiations will begin as soon as possible.
Australia’s current beef access to the EU comprises: 7,150 tonnes of country specific High Quality Beef (HQB) quota access with a 20% in-quota tariff; shared access to a 48,200 tonne global grainfed beef quota with a 0% in-quota tariff; and access above these quotas via import duties of 12.8% plus up to €3/kg. In addition, EU importers have access to a frozen beef quota and a frozen beef for processing quota which are at times used to source Australian product. Australia’s current sheepmeat access to the EU comprises a 19,186 tonne country specific sheepmeat / goat meat quota with a 0% in-quota duty; and access above this quota via import duties of 12.8% plus up to €3/kg.