Brussels: Trade Minister Don Farrell said Australia will walk away from trade talks with the EU if a deal is not struck by the end of the year after two days of talks in Brussels ended in deadlock.
Australia wants the EU to grant it meaningful access to its agricultural markets and allow producers of foods like champagne, Parmesan and feta to be able to sell them under those names.
But the European Union, which heavily subsidises its agricultural sectors, is resisting opening up its markets to Australian producers at a level Australia says is commercially meaningful. And it wants to protect the names of foods first produced and named in European countries under its system of Geographical Indicators.
Farrell, who broke his European holiday to dash to Brussels for the two days of talks, said he was still optimistic of making progress next month when the two sides have agreed to reconvene.
“We’re disappointed that we couldn’t finalise a new FTA with the Europeans today but we’ve agreed a process to continue the negotiations and I view that very positively,” he said in an interview.
“We’re narrowing down the number of issues in dispute between us, we’re getting closer on those outstanding issues but we’ve still got a way to go. Time will tell.
“I think there’s a desire on both sides to reach an agreement and the next few weeks will tell whether that’s possible or not.
“I want to be optimistic about it, I’ve taken the trouble to come here, this is my third visit to Brussels over the last six months, I think we’ve demonstrated our bona fides about wanting to get a fair agreement for Australia and now we’ve got to finalise that process.