EU Trade Cecilia Malmstroem met with Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Monday to officially launch negotiations for a comprehensive trade agreement between the EU and Australia.
The EU is Australia’s second-biggest trade partner, with bilateral trade in goods between the two partners reaching almost EUR 48bn in 2017. Bilateral trade in services added an additional EUR 27bn.
The EU executive says a deal would remove barriers to trade in goods and services, create opportunities for small and large companies, and set ambitious rules in line with other trade agreements of the EU.
The opening of talks with Australia follows the conclusion of EU negotiations with Japan last year and Mexico this past spring, as well the entry into force of the EU-Canada trade agreement in September of last year. An agreement between the EU and Australia will consolidate the EU’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, says the Commission.
“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,” said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem: “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 is set for 2 to 6 July in Brussels.
Australia is one of the world’s fastest-growing developed economies. 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 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, says the Commission. Information about the negotiations, including factsheet, examples of small exporters, statistics and other material, is available online.
Following her visit to Australia, Commissioner Malmstroem moves on to Wellington, where she will on Thursday launch trade talks between the EU and New Zealand.