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A-EU FTA negotiations must deliver for red meat

23 October 2023

Ahead of what may be a final push for the Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement (A-EU FTA) negotiations, the Australian red meat industry is adamant that the Australian Government maintains its stated objective of securing significant increases in market access for red meat.

Industry representatives will travel to Osaka next week to coincide with Trade Minister Farrell meeting with his EU counterpart, and encourage the Minister to continue the mission of ‘levelling the playing field’ for Australian beef and sheepmeat access to the EU.

With the EU holding firm on its highly restrictive quota position, Australian officials must also be resolute that there should be no deal for the sake of a deal – and importantly, no deal without addressing the red meat sector’s disproportionally low volume access.

“Our case for seeking and securing significant trade reform is compelling,” says Andrew McDonald, Chair of the Australia-EU Red Meat Market Access Taskforce (the Taskforce).

“The EU is one of the world’s largest meat consumers and in order to service this demand, there is an ongoing import requirement.

“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.

“However, our ability to service the market is severely limited due to the EU’s maintenance of outdated, inequitable and restrictive quotas and high tariffs.

“This access has been largely unaltered for nearly 50 years; but to make matters worse, it has actually been eroded while we’ve been negotiating the FTA.

“We’ve watched our competitors improve their access to the market and now we’re looking to ‘level the playing field’ – as the EU mantra consistently states.”

The current competitive disadvantage for our products must be addressed. The trade imbalance on meat products which favours the EU must be addressed. These negotiations are the precise, and potentially only, fora to achieve these imperatives.

“Our industry is an ardent supporter of trade reform and we have worked very closely with the negotiating team and their EU counterparts to ensure our position is well known,” Mr McDonald said.

“These negotiations, while challenging, must get it right. Agreeing to a sub-optimal outcome will set back any reform to our trade framework to the EU for the foreseeable future and detrimentally impact our trade resilience and diversification for decades to come.”

Industry concurs with Trade Minister Farrell’s recent comment that: “if we can land a deal with the EU, it will deepen and diversify our trade, expand opportunities for Australian exporters and strengthen our supply chains.”

This is a direct reflection of the red meat industry’s position. Now the Government needs to stand and deliver.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity for our industry to improve our market access and we’re looking to Minister Farrell and his government to maintain the resolve, even if that takes the negotiations beyond an end October timeline,” Mr McDonald said.