BRUSSELS Reuters: The European Union and Australia said on Tuesday that negotiations on a proposed free trade deal had fallen short due to outstanding issues, particularly with regard to agricultural exports.
Australia and the EU began discussions in 2018, and they had planned to reach a conclusion this week. However, there were still some issues, especially in regards to how far the EU would open its markets to agricultural goods from Australia, particularly cattle.
“We regret that we were unable to wrap off our discussions with Australia this week. We made progress, but more work is needed to address important unresolved concerns, according to a representative for the European Commission.
Don Farrell, the minister of trade for Australia, stated that representatives from both sides will work to schedule another meeting for August.
In an impromptu news conference held in a park in the heart of Brussels, he told reporters, “As we’ve maintained all along, Australia needs genuine agricultural access to European markets.
Given that many of its cattle, lamb, dairy goods, and wines are subject to tariffs and quotas, Australia is eager to have more access to EU markets.
“I’m optimistic that with a little bit of goodwill, some hard work, and a little bit of perseverance, we’re going to get there,” Farrell said.
Both parties are attempting to diversify their commerce, with the EU doing so in particular in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Australia after a 2020 political disagreement in which China blocked a number of Australian agriculture goods.
A deal may also lessen the EU’s dependence on China while assisting it in its hunt for essential raw materials for its green and digital transformation.
Lithium production in Australia is the highest in the world, and there are also significant mineral resources there for cobalt, manganese, and rare earth elements.
More access for the EU to Australian energy and raw material goods, as well as services, is also a topic of ongoing negotiations.
A trade agreement between the EU and Australia, according to the EU, could increase the EU’s gross domestic product by up to 3.9 billion euros by 2030. Manufacturers of machinery, metals, electronic equipment, chemicals, automobiles, and food and beverage companies would all profit.
With increased access for Australian enterprises to invest in Europe, Australia expects rewards for its service providers and agricultural exporters.