Trade Minister Don Farrell has rejected a free trade deal with Europe following an unresolved spat over greater market access for Australian farmers and a failure to agree on name protections for European products.
Following a visit to the G7 trade ministers’ meeting in Osaka, Senator Farrell said the $100bn deal was a no-go after both parties failed to reach a compromise on a number of sticking points including a European-bid to force Australian business to rename locally produced products.
“Unfortunately, we have not been able to make progress,” Senator Farrell confirmed on Monday.
“Negotiations will continue and I am hopeful that, one day, we will sign a deal that benefits both Australia and our European friends.“
Negotiations between Australia and Europe first stalled in July due to a disagreement over an EU attempt to force Australian businesses to rebadge the name of goods, including feta, mozzarella, parmesan and prosecco, to protect European naming rights.
Australia argued the changes would have cost nearly $100m and didn’t acknowledge its population’s strong ties to Europe through family heritage.
Local agricultural producers also staunchly opposed the deal, arguing farmers would have received the short end of the stick compared to their European counterparts. Last week, National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simon labelled the deal as a “dud” and said it looked like the “EU is getting more of what they wanted, and we’re getting less.”
Before the meeting, Senator Farrell expressed that he was hopeful he and EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis could reach a deal.
Australia will now have to wait until the next European Commission is appointed after next June’s European elections before talks can resume.