Australia may be set to rip huge in foreign trade after the Federal Government announced that it is in the final stages of entering into free trade agreement negotiations with the European Union.
The government hopes that the talks will be started fast enough, before the second half of the year once a key stumbling block to the talks is removed out of the way.
Trade Minister Steven Ciobo has finalized a study that guides on how future talks will be held. The study puts a limit on what can and cannot be included on the negotiation table.
While speaking to AM, the minister said that “The EU is our second-largest trading partner, it’s worth roughly $95.6 billion and putting this FTA in place will be crucial driver of the Australian economy into the future, and of generating more jobs in Australia.”
Mr. Ciobo now awaits a Cabinet mandate so as to formally launch the FTA talks but has not yet set the talk’s timeframe.
Australia’s biggest foreign investment originates from the European Union.
What Industries will benefit?
The minister declined to give a clear answer on the industries that are likely to benefit the most but said that the deal would be crucial for Australia’s economy.
“One example I often make reference to is the fact that Australia imports more agricultural products from Europe — us with a population of 23 or 24 million — than the Europeans do from Australia with their population,” he said.
The Federal Opposition was supportive of the fact the study had been concluded but added that it’s not within the schedule.
Jason Clare, the spokesman for Labor trade, said that it is good to have the study completed but “like a lot of things that the Government’s doing in trade, it is way behind schedule.”
He pointed out that the government made a promise to have the deal negotiated by now yet things are yet to be rolled out.
But the minister rejected the criticism saying that they are still on schedule and that he takes no trade advice from the Labor Party. They have no clear understanding on whether to go for bilaterals or multilaterals, in addition to having failed to begin any FTAs when they were last in charge of the country.