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Australia-European Union FTA update

19 December 2023

A group of representatives from the Australia-EU Red Meat Market Access Taskforce travelled to Osaka, Japan, in October 2023 to coincide with Trade Minister Don Farrell’s meeting with his EU counterpart for the intention of finalising a free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union.

As communicated by Minister Farrell in a subsequent media statement, unfortunately they were not able to make progress.

However, negotiations will continue, and Minister Farrell remains hopeful that they will one day sign a deal that benefits both Australia and our European friends.

From a red meat perspective, despite the inability to conclude a deal in October, the industry remains supportive of the A-EU FTA negotiations and in particular, the stated objective of securing significant increases in market access for red meat – ‘levelling the playing field’ for Australian beef and sheepmeat access to the EU.

According to the Chair of the Taskforce Andrew McDonald, Australia’s case for seeking and securing significant trade reform is compelling.

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

“Australia’s trading relationship with the EU is based on shared values and is heavily focused 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“However, our ability to service the market is severely limited due to the EU’s maintenance of outdated, inequitable and restrictive quotas and high tariffs.”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,” he said.

“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.”

“Our industry is an ardent supporter of trade reform, and we will continue to work very closely with the Australian negotiating team and their EU counterparts to ensure our position is well known given the once-in-a-generation opportunity for our industry to improve our market access.”