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Negotiations over a free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union, ongoing since 2018, hit another jam during recent talks in Japan. Both sides have yet to find common ground on market access, particularly concerning Australian agricultural products.
At the G7 trade ministers’ meeting in Osaka, Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell had hoped to finalize an agreement. However, he lamented, “Unfortunately, we have not been able to make progress.” Despite the setback, Farrell remains optimistic, stating, “Negotiations will continue, and I am hopeful that one day we will sign a deal that benefits both Australia and our European friends.”
Local farmers have been a significant voice in these negotiations, urging the Australian government to only ink a deal if it provides broader access to the EU market for their goods. Agriculture Minister Murray Watt weighed in, noting that the EU’s latest offer remained the same as a proposal made three months earlier.
Watt also pointed out the complicating factor of upcoming EU elections, remarking, “It’s always much harder for countries and regions to negotiate these sorts of trade agreements on the eve of elections.” As Australia pushes for a deal to alleviate tariffs and expand quotas for its farm exports, the EU eyes enhanced access to Australia’s critical minerals sector.