A disagreement regarding terms prompted the Australian government to reject a proposed free trade agreement on the part of the European Union. This is a major setback for a deal that has been on the table since 2018, but officials from Australia’s largest agricultural organization expressed their gratitude to relevant officials as they feel that the agreement would have kept most of their goods out of the region.
Don Farrell, Australia’s Minister of Trade, made the announcement on Monday, October 30th, following talks among his peers from the Group of Seven (G7) in Osaka, Japan over the weekend.
Farrell explained that, while he came to Japan to finalize the agreement, very little progress was made regarding its acceptability. He did, however, say that the deal remains open to negotiation; he also expressed hope that the parties concerned would soon come to a final agreement benefiting all concerned.
This Deal Doesn’t Work
For his part, Australian Minister of Agriculture Murray Watt pointed out how EU officials made very minor revisions to the most recent proposal it made back in July.
Watt lamented how the EU did not increase offers for some of Australia’s major agricultural products, namely beef, milk and other dairy products, live sheep, and sugar, decreasing the appeal of the deal for Australian farmers.
When presented with the terms, agricultural groups throughout Australia advised the government against signing the agreement as they felt that it would put them at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts in Canada, New Zealand, and South America, all of whom already have widespread access to markets throughout the EU.
In response, European trade head Valdis Dombrovskis protested that what they offered was one they considered a commercially relevant offer to their Australian counterparts, one that would give them significant market access even while respecting the interests of farmers throughout the EU.