Yesterday, a delegation representing agriculture sectors in the EU’s firing line met with the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, and the Minister for Trade, Simon Birmingham, to voice their concerns about Australia’s trade negotiations with the European Union.
Led by the National Farmers’ Federation, the delegation expressed their dismay that the EU was refusing to fully open its market to Australian agricultural exports.
NFF Fiona Simson President, co-chaired the meeting and said that the issue was not only the EU’s refusal to provide fair access to Australian agricultural exports.
“The EU also wants Australian producers to cease using common food names and instead restrict their use to European farmers only.
“We also understand the EU has provided no market access offer for beef, sheepmeat, dairy, sugar or rice.”
Ms Simson said Australia shared many common values and historical ties with European countries.
Yet, despite this, Brussels seeks to hold Australian farmers to ransom and squeeze a deal out of our government that could leave us worse off.Fiona Simson, NFF President
“Australian agricultural exports present no threat to European farmers.”
Ms Simson said the EU was a mature market that ‘talked the talk’ on open markets, but failed to ‘walk the walk’ when it came to agriculture.
“Europe is the largest exporter of agri-food products in the world, but they continue to plead that their farmers need protection from international competition. This is just ludicrous.”
The delegation reminded Minister Birmingham that European farmers had benefited from subsidies for many decades.
“Those subsidies have undercut Australian farmers with subsidised European food imports cutting out Australian products.
“Australia farmers deserve a fair deal,” Ms Simson said.
The NFF is calling on the Parliament to thoroughly examine this agreement before it is too late.
“We need a parliamentary inquiry into geographical indications to ensure the Australian public is fully aware of what the EU is asking of us. We will only get one chance to get this right.
“The Government must hold the line on demanding the best market access deal the EU has with any trade partner, with exceptional market access, and ensuring any agreement on GIs and other rules don’t leave Australian farmers worse off,” Ms Simson said.
Ensuring Australia has world-leading market access is a key part of NFF’s plan for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030. A dud deal with the EU is antithetical to this goal.