EU trade talks resume with hope of breaking impasse


Australian and European ministers have held talks to resolve an impasse over a potential free trade deal.

Negotiations stalled after Trade Minister Don Farrell walked away from the table, claiming a lack of market access for sectors such as agriculture meant the high quality deal being sought could not be achieved.

Senator Farrell spoke with EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis via teleconference on Thursday, where both ministers agreed to meet in person in coming months.

The trade minister said he made Australia's expectations clear on what it will take to finalise a deal.

"We are making progress, but we need to bridge the gap between our expectations, and what the Europeans are offering," Senator Farrell said.

"I'm prepared to persist for as long as it takes, and to work as hard as I can on behalf of Australian producers and businesses, to get a better deal."

He has also invited Mr Dombrovskis to Australia for the next round of official ministerial negotiations, an invitation he is set to reiterate during their meeting.

It was initially hoped the free trade agreement could be wrapped up by the middle of the year.

The Europeans are also pushing for geographical indicators, which would stop Australian producers from using names like feta, prosecco and kalamata.

The trade minister has indicated this is a non-starter for Australia, saying it is reasonable for farmers to use the terms to represent varieties of products rather than European regions.