Crikey | 15 June 2022
Push for EU trade agreement by year’s end
by Dominic Giannini, AAP
Trade Minister Don Farrell is pushing to have an Australia-European Union free trade agreement inked by the end of the year.
Senator Farrell, who is in Switzerland for a World Trade Organisation conference, has met with his Singaporean and Korean counterparts as he works to expand trading ties and opportunities in Asia.
But the trade minister says he has a “clear impression” Australia’s change of government and more ambitious emissions reductions targets have been welcomed by the Europeans as he prepares to meet the French trade minister on Wednesday.
“There was almost a audible audible sigh of relief yesterday when I met a delegation of European parliamentarians that there’s been a change of government and we have a far more progressive attitude to the issue of climate change,” he told Sky News.
“That’ll keep us in very good stead in these negotiations.”
Senator Farrell added renewed engagement with the French will also make negotiations with Europe easier, after the fallout from the cancellation of the submarine contract by Scott Morrison.
“I’m hoping (meeting with the French minister) will lead to a very early resumption of the negotiations with Europe about a free trade agreement,” he said.
“I hope I’m not too optimistic here but I’d like to think that we can get a free trade agreement with the European Union by the end of the year.”
A European Union delegation will land in Australia in the coming weeks to continue negotiations.
Senator Farrell has also invited his Indonesian counterpart Muhammad Lutfi to Australia.
“Indonesia has a population of 270 million people. The living standards are rising. We need to take advantage of that to build our trade relationship,” he said.
“It makes sense from a strategic point of view, but also from the point of view of building a good strong economic relationship.”
Senator Farrell had also attempted to meet with his Chinese counterpart but was unable to do so due to scheduling, with Wang Wentao departing the WTO conference early.
“We were happy to meet with him. The invitation is still there. I’d like to meet with him,” he said.