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EU-Australia Trade Deal In The Offing

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

19 November 2014

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that his Government wants to move as quickly as it can on a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU).

Abbott met with French President François Hollande on November 19 and told a press conference afterwards that discussions had focused on trade.

"It is my hope that Australia can swiftly begin negotiations for a free trade agreement with the EU, and I've had a great deal of support from European leaders, including François, for this objective," he said.

The Prime Minister added that he was conscious that it took the EU and Canada some years to complete their trade treaty, but stressed that "right around the world now there's a determination to move here." According to Abbott, the most successful discussions held at the recent Group of Twenty nations (G-20) summit in Brisbane were on trade.

Abbott explained that participants in the G-20 talks were aware of "the need for freer trade at every level – unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral, and everyone wants to get these things done more quickly because all of us appreciate that trade means jobs, trade means prosperity, trade ultimately means security." Australia will therefore seek to "do [an EU deal] as quickly as we can and that might be more quickly than people think," he said.

Hollande told the press conference: "In relation to the trade element which is being opened, we are very much in favor of this." He said that it is crucial that market access is opened up for EU exporters as part of the design.

He said the design "has to be very wide-ranging and allow for certain products, which currently cannot come into Australia, be admitted, and I'm thinking of pork producers who have a lot of difficulty in terms of having their products tasted by Australian consumers, but there are other fields that can be slowed down by these rules, [and] we would also like [these] products to be identified."

TAGS: free trade agreement (FTA) | trade treaty | Australia | agreements | Canada | G20 | trade | European Union (EU) | Europe

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