AUSTRALIAN trade minister Don Farrell has walked away from a trade deal with the European Union after negotiations failed to make progress.
Mr Farrell had met with European Commission executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis during the G7 Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Osaka to progress “outstanding issues” in the Australia-EU free trade negotiations.
The two sides have been negotiating since 2018, according to Reuters, but farmers have pressured the government not to sign a deal they say does not let enough of their products into the EU market.
“My job as Australia’s trade minister is to get the best deal that we can for our producers, our businesses, our workers and our consumers,” Mr Farrell said.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to make progress.
“Negotiations will continue, and I am hopeful that one day we will sign a deal that benefits both Australia and our European friends.”
The National Farmers’ Federation president David Jochinke said Mr Farrell had “made the right call” as the EU trade offer would have disadvantaged Australian farmers.
“Today’s decision was a hard one, but ultimately it was the right one,” Mr Jochinke said.
“We thank minister Farrell and agriculture minister Murray Watt for standing by Australian farmers and walking away from an unacceptable offer.
“It’s disappointing the Europeans weren’t willing to put something commercially meaningful on the table. This was always going to be a tough negotiation with no guarantee of an outcome.
“Ultimately, we all want a deal with the EU that benefits both sides. We encourage the government to maintain dialogue with the EU to work towards this if and when the time is right.”
According to Reuters, Mr Watt said it would be some time before the Australian government and EU leadership would be able to negotiate a deal because of upcoming elections in EU.