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Story of the Week

EU/Australia FTA Moves to the Next Phase

The EU’s Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Australia’s Minister for Trade Steven Ciobo, in a phone call last week concluded discussions on the long awaited scoping study as a prelude to more formal negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union and Australia. The scoping study was supposed to be completed some months ago as a similar study on the EU/New Zealand FTA has already been concluded. The European Commission is currently finalising its assessment of the potential impact that such a trade deal could have for the EU. The study of course includes sensitivities in the farming sector, in particular meat imports. 

As the next step, the European Commission (EC) will now ask EU Member States for the authorisation to launch formal negotiations with Australia and for the specific negotiating directives. Key outcomes for Australia will be expanding both sheep meat and beef access to the EU but also crucially securing the future of Australia’s duty free access for grain fed beef into the EU which trade lawyers suggest can only be guaranteed through an agreement as part of an FTA with the EU. For the EU expect considerable resistance from the EU’s meat industry to expanded access for Australian meat.

(Tuesday 11 April 2017)

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