​Media Release

Coalition pushes towards landmark trade agreement​

23 May 2018

  • Council of the European Union agreed to open negotiations for the Australia-EU free trade agreement (FTA) overnight.
  • The future FTA has huge potential for agricultural exports including beef, sheepmeat, sugar, dairy, horticulture and wine.
  • New agricultural counsellor strategically positioned in the European Union (EU) will play a role in securing improved market access for our farmers.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud welcomed the announcement by the Council of the European Union overnight that negotiations for the Australia-EU FTA will kick off in coming weeks.

"The announcement out of the EU last night is great news - now we're really cooking with gas," Minister Littleproud said.

"This has big potential for our farmers and will open up lucrative premium markets in our fourth largest export destination driving increased exports, economic growth and jobs in rural and regional Australia.

"So much of the food our famers produce goes to export and the government will be working hard to make sure our farmers get real benefits from this.

"A high-quality trade deal with the EU could eliminate many tariffs and create new and better export opportunities across some of our biggest sectors including beef and sheepmeat, sugar, dairy, cotton, wool, rice, grains, horticulture and wine.

"In 2016-17 our wine exports to the EU were worth $566 million, wool was worth $333 million; beef and veal were at $229 million and nuts exports raked in $226 million. All are subject to various quotas and tariffs which means there is huge potential for growth as part of the future FTA.

"The new agricultural counsellor in the EU announced as part of this year's Budget will be vital to securing improved market access for our farmers as part of the future deal so the timing couldn't be better.                                                                                                                                                    

"The EU is our fourth largest export destination for agriculture, fisheries and forestry worth $3.8 billion in 2016-17. It is also our largest source of agriculture, fisheries and forestry imports, valued at $5.6 billion.

"FTAs give Australian exporters an important advantage over international competitors who do not have agreements in place, and level the playing field with those who do.

"Our farmers are already benefitting from our other FTAs including with China, Japan and Korea and can look forward to better market access under the TPP-11.

"Identifying and making use of new market access opportunities will help support the ongoing productivity and profitability of the Australian agriculture. I look forward to the launch of negotiations between Australia and the European Union next month in Australia to further cement our important trade relationship with the EU." ​