European Union’s Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström together with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Trade Minister of Australia Steven Ciobo on Monday officially launched negotiations for a comprehensive and ambitious trade agreement between the EU and Australia in the Australian capital of Canberra.
The aim of the negotiations is to remove barriers to trade in goods and services, create opportunities for small and large companies, as well as setting ambitious rules in line with other trade agreements of the EU, contributing to shape global trade.
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 spring, as well the entry into force of the EU-Canada trade agreement in September of 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.”
Following the announcement, the first formal round of talks between the respective sides’ teams of negotiators will take place in Brussels from July 2 to 6.
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 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.