Yahoo | 9 July 2023
Farrell returns to Europe for free trade deal talks
by Andrew Brown | AAP
Trade Minister Don Farrell is heading back to Europe in a bid to break an impasse with the EU over a free trade deal.
Mr Farrell will travel to Brussels on Monday for talks with European Commissioner of Trade Valdis Dombrovskis and the EU’s agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski.
The talks come amid a long-running stalemate on setting up a free trade deal with the EU, with the use of geographic indicators on food such as alcohol and cheese one of the sticking points.
European demands would mean Australian producers would not be able to label their products as feta or prosecco.
"Concluding an ambitious trade deal between like-minded partners is important at a time of mounting geo-political uncertainty," Senator Farrell said.
"Negotiations remain difficult and have reached a point where issues vital to Australia’s national interest must be improved."
Last month, Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said Australia was prepared to walk away from the deal, following the breakdown in negotiations.
However, Senator Farrell said he was willing to persist with talks with his European counterparts, even if negotiations extend well into the rest of the year.
"The government remains strongly committed to the best possible deal for Australian businesses, farmers, workers and the broader community," he said.
"As a bloc, the EU is Australia’s third-largest trading partner, with total two-way trade worth $97 billion in 2021-22."
A trade deal with the EU would give Australian trade access to a market with more than 445 million people and a GDP of $24 trillion.
Australia has been aiming to ink the deal with the EU since 2018.