This week the Government launched public consultations on a list of Geographical Indications (GIs) the EU wants Australia to protect – a precondition set by the EU to start market access discussions under Australia-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations.
Farmers are fighting back calling the EU’s demands ‘bad policy’.
“Australian farmers and consumers will be worse off should the Government ultimately agree to the EU’s demand that we extend protection for GIs on food, wines and spirits,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) CEO Tony Mahar said.
“Denying Australian producers the right to use well known terms basically closes a market producers have developed over many years.”
“Australia doesn’t like the idea of GIs but it’s a non-negotiable element from the EU,” Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told the ABC.
“We will put up a strong fight in terms of areas of Australian interests and ultimately what we’re trying to do is get the best possible deal that ensures Australian businesses and farmers can get better access to market engaging 500 million potential customers.”
Typically, FTAs provide improved market access opportunities and benefit Australian farmers. With potential restrictions on common cheese names, the Australian dairy industry is concerned for their 42,600 workers.
“The dairy industry has long argued against the EU’s regime of protecting GIs. Many other dairy producing countries have also opposed the moves by the EU to extend their GIs regime,” Dairy Australia CEO David Inall said.
“The Australian Government should not consider any extension of GI protection without a guaranteed commitment from the EU for exceptional market access for all Australian agricultural products without any exclusions,” Mr Mahar said.