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Red meat exporters speak on trade deal with European Union

Australian meat quota holders and exporters to the EU have invested significantly over decades to establish their trade with the EU.

The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) has called on the Australian Government to only sign a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) if it delivers meaningful access for red meat processors and exporters without built-in barriers to trade.

Australian meat quota holders and exporters to the EU have invested significantly over decades to establish their trade with the EU and developed important relationships with their European customers.

Despite this, the restrictive conditions such as outdated, inequitable, and restrictive quotas and high tariffs mean that the volumes traded are so small that most Europeans will not get the opportunity to eat Australian meat.

“The EU FTA is Australia’s one shot to correct a uniquely unfair system faced by Australian meat exporters, and the Government must make sure that it does not agree to a deal which locks in restricted access that effectively sends us backwards and doesn’t allow for future growth,” said AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchinson.

“Any deal must improve the tariff and quota access, while also not establishing new restrictions and barriers to trade.”

Hutchinson said Australia’s negotiators have worked hard to get to this point based on the promise that ‘sensitive’ products, including meat, will be negotiated in good faith at the ’11th hour’.

“Now we are there, this is a once in a generation opportunity that is too important to get wrong,” he added.

“The EU look set to get almost all their asks outlined at the start of the FTA, but it’s hard to see what’s being offered to Australia in return is fair, particularly for agriculture.

“Acceptance of a sub-par deal assists the EU in restricting its imports through a regulatory death by a thousand cuts and goes against the spirit of a ‘free’ trade agreement.”

“Our industry has been at the coal face for decades developing this market and if this deal falls short, it will put Australia’s red meat sector at a massive disadvantage for years to come. We don’t just want any deal; we want the best deal.”

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