EU starts formal trade negotiations with Australia
The European Commission (EC) has started formal trade negotiations with Australia.
The EU is Australia's second-biggest trade partner. Bilateral trade in goods between the two partners has risen steadily in recent years, reaching almost EUR48bn (US$56bn) in 2017. Bilateral trade in services added an additional EUR27bn.
Having a trade agreement with Australia will provide EU businesses with a valuable entry point into the wider Asia-Pacific region.
They will also put European companies on an equal footing with those from the other countries in the area that have signed up to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) or that already enjoy better access to Australia through other preferential trade agreements.
According to an impact assessment by the European Commission, trade in goods and services between the two partners could increase by around a third.
The trade negotiations aim to remove barriers and help EU firms – especially smaller ones – to export more. They also aim to provide ambitious provisions on trade and sustainable development, showing a shared commitment to labour rights and environmental protection (including climate change) in trade. And if a deal is struck, it will allow EU companies to better participate in government procurement in Australia.