Australia and EU eye new trade deal | Business | Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 18.06.2018

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Australia and EU eye new trade deal

The first round in trade negotiations between the EU and Australia has kicked off. As protectionism spreads, Canberra is keen to tie the 28-nation bloc into a deal that would open EU markets to its cheese, wine and meat.

European trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, on a two-day visit to Australia, said on Monday "there is a lot of global momentum for trade liberalization."

The new deal is expected to upgrade an existing agreement between the EU and Australia, which is governed by a 2008 partnership framework designed to reduce technical barriers to trade. It is expected to see the removal of customs duties and simpler procedures for product testing.

Read moreMacron begins Australia visit, focused on submarines, trade

Brexit and growing protectionist impulses in the US have galvanized Canberra to seek to bind the EU into a new trade deal, which could see Australia gaining more access to EU markets, something the Antipodean nation has been seeking or decades, in particular increasing food and agricultural exports.

Concerns in Europe center on Australian cheese, wine and meat. Canberra also wants to up opportunities for Australian services exporters, mainly in education, financial and professional services.

Negotiators meet again in Brussels in early July to finalize the talks.

Committed to free trade

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia remained committed to a Pacific Rim trade deal even after Trump pulled the US out. Australia was among 11 signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership in March. Trump has since indicated the US could reopen talks on joining.

"We are committed to free trade and open markets and we practice what we preach," Turnbull said, while Malmstrom added that the two parties share similar views on how world trade should work. "We defend open trade, rule-based and fair, and this is what we're going to cement in our free trade agreement," she said.

Australia also plans to negotiate a separate free trade deal with Britain after it leaves the EU.

Key facts and figures

  • The EU believes trade in goods between Australia and the EU could increase 37 percent in the event of the new trade deal being signed and trade in services could rise by 8 percent
  • The EU is Australia's second largest trading partner, its third largest export destination and the second largest services market
  • The EU was Australia's largest source of foreign investment in 2017
  • For the EU, Australia is the 18th largest trade partner, with 1.3 percent of EU trade
  • Australia and the EU traded €47.7 billion ($56 billion) worth of goods in 2017: EU goods exports to Australia were €34.7 billion and Australia goods exports to the EU were €13 billion, according to data from the European Commission
  • The EU mainly sells manufactured goods to Australia, for example machinery and transport equipment, as well as chemicals and pharmaceuticals, amounting to about 86 percent of the total exports
  • Agricultural products, mainly food and fish, cover about 11 percent
  • Australia's exports include mineral commodities, like fuels and mining products, as well as agricultural products
  • The EU is Australia's largest trading partner after China. Australia and China have had a bilateral free trade deal since 2015

jbh, uhe (AP, dpa)

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