THE launch of Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement negotiations this week by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Minister for Trade, Hon Steven Ciobo MP, and the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, have been warmly welcomed by the Australian red meat industry.
Jason Strong, Chair of the Australia-EU Red Meat Market Access Taskforce, said the announcement was an extremely positive first step in seeking to improve market access arrangements with a long-term customer of Australian beef and sheepmeat.
“The launch of FTA negotiations with the EU provides a significant opportunity to revisit Australia’s red meat access to the European market for the first time in over forty years,” Mr Strong said.
“The EU is a major consumer of imported meat - with the European Commission identifying an ongoing requirement for both imported beef and sheepmeat due to deficits in domestic supply.
“While Australia is ideally positioned to help service this market requirement via dedicated supply chains, our access is limited by the EU’s highly restrictive import regime.
“Compared with many other countries supplying the EU, Australia experiences disproportionately low volume quotas, high duties within certain quotas and trade prohibitive above quota tariffs."
For beef, Australia currently has access to a country specific quota of only 7,150 tonnes, as well as shared access to a 45,000 tonne global grainfed beef quota - which in combination represent a meagre 0.2pc of total EU beef consumption.
For sheepmeat/goatmeat, Australia’s country specific quota is currently just 19,186 tonnes or less than 2pc of total EU sheepmeat consumption.
“Australia’s trading relationship with the EU is based on shared values and is heavily focussed on meeting EU customer demand for high quality red meat products," Mr Strong said.
Mr Strong said the Taskforce was encouraged by the Australian Government’s commitment that it would seek an ambitious and comprehensive FTA with the EU, prioritising enhanced access for agricultural products, including Australian red meat.
“We look forward to working closely with Australia’s negotiating team to deliver the best possible result for Australian red meat producers, processors and exporters," Mr Strong said.