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EU and Australia launch talks for a broad trade agreement

Today, European Union Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo officially launched negotiations for a comprehensive and ambitious trade agreement between the EU and Australia in Canberra.

Commissioner Malmström also held a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Ciobo to mark this important development in EU-Australia relations.

The negotiations will aim to remove goods and services barriers as well as develop rules to make trade easier and more sustainable.

On 22 May, the Council of the European Union adopted the decision authorising the opening of negotiations for a trade agreement between the EU and Australia. So far the EU and Australia have been conducting their trade and economic relations under the 2008 EU-Australia Partnership Framework.

The opening of talks with Australia is part of the EU agenda for open and fair trade. It follows the conclusion of negotiations with Japan last year and Mexico this past European spring, as well the entry into force of the EU-Canada trade agreement in September last year. The future agreement between the EU and Australia will further consolidate the EU’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “I look forward to adding Australia to our ever-expanding circle of like-minded trade partners. In challenging times, it is heartening to see that Australia shares our commitment to a positive trade agenda, and to the idea that good trade agreements are a win for both sides. The result of our negotiations will be an agreement that offers clear benefits for both the EU and Australia. It will boost economic opportunity for businesses, both big and small, and create jobs.” 

The first formal round of talks between the respective sides’ teams of negotiators will take place in Brussels from 2 to 6 July.

Australia is one of the fastest-growing economies of the OECD. It recently negotiated the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with 10 other countries in the Pacific region. The future EU-Australia agreement will let European companies compete on a level playing-field with businesses from those countries with which Australia already has trade agreements.

The EU is already Australia’s second biggest trade partner. Bilateral trade in goods between the EU and Australia has risen steadily in recent years, reaching almost €48 billion last year. The sectors which make up the bulk of EU exports to Australia are transport equipment, machinery and appliances, chemicals, food and services. Bilateral trade in services is around €28 billion. The agreement could increase trade in goods between the two partners by over a third.

Commissioner Malmström’s visit to Australia

Whilst in Australia, the Commissioner is also meeting Governor General of Australia Peter Cosgrove; Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop; Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud; as well as members of the Opposition. Today, she is also delivering the 2018 Schuman Lecture at Australian National University, under the headline EU-Australia: A Global Alliance for Trade.

Commissioner Malmström will visit Sydney on Tuesday where she will participate in a roundtable with Australian and European businesses.

The Commissioner will also visit the headquarters of Cicada Innovations, a hi-tech start-up incubator in Sydney, where she will meet start-ups involved in fields like robotics, next-generation wifi technology and medical supplies.

Alongside EU Ambassador Michael Pulch, the Commissioner will also meet in Sydney with Australian civil society members, including representatives from climate and human rights organisations, trade unions and academia.

After her visit to Australia, Commissioner Malmström will go to Wellington, where she is launching trade negotiations between the EU and New Zealand on Thursday (21 June).

Source: Press release

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