Farmers want better access to EU market

27/09/2019 Posted by admin

PM Malcolm Turnbull (left) and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom at Parliament House.Australia wants farmers to get better access to the European Union’s huge market when negotiations on a free trade deal start within weeks.
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The nation’s top agricultural exports to the EU are canola, wine, greasy wool, beef and veal, and almonds, but that could expand once a deal is signed.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other ministers in Canberra on Monday to officially launch negotiations on a free trade deal.

The sticking point, as it has been for years, will be European producers unhappy with Australian companies using European names, and farmers worried about competition.

“Agriculture and what we call geographical indicators are very important to us,” Dr Malmstrom told reporters.

“I think this is probably the chapter that would be the most difficult one. But we are well-prepared.”

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the EU was Australia’s fourth-largest agricultural export destination, and reduced tariffs would only make it bigger.

“More high-quality Australian produce on EU dinner tables is a win for EU consumers and a win for our farmers, our rural and regional communities and our nation,” Mr Littleproud said.

National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson said Australian farmers were ready to compete on a fairer playing field in the EU.

“Australia exports about 75 per cent of its agricultural produce and our farmers are amongst the least subsidised in the world,” she said.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo hinted that high-quality agricultural products could be a big winner.

“I want to see more Australian premium produce on plates from Prague to Paris,” Mr Ciobo said.

The trade talks come as EU and Australia have become concerned about rising protectionism, especially in the United States and China.

Dr Malmstrom said the “predictability” of rules-based free trade had served Australia and the EU well.

“I think it sends a very strong political signal that we’re launching these negotiations today,” she said.

A free trade pact would open a market of half a billion consumers and a GDP of $23.2 trillion, making it one of Australia’s biggest agreements.

The first round of negotiations will be held in Brussels in early July.

Australian Associated Press

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