The Australian Prime Minister together with the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission agreed in a joint statement on 15 November 2015 to start the process towards a comprehensive and high-quality Free Trade Agreement (FTA). An FTA between our economies will promote stronger trade in goods and services, as well as two-way investment. As a bloc, the EU is Australia’s second largest trading partner; third largest export destination; and second largest services export market.
In 2016, the EU’s foreign direct investment in Australia was valued at $164.8 billion and Australian foreign direct investment in the EU was valued at $104.9 billion. In 2016-2017, total two-way merchandise and services trade between Australia and the EU was worth $99.6 billion.
As a bloc, the EU is Australia’s second largest services export market, valued at $11.6 billion in 2016-2017. Services account for a growing proportion of Australia’s total trade with the EU, and will be an important component of any future free trade agreement.
The Australian Government is committed to securing an ambitious and comprehensive FTA with the EU. Australian and EU officials have completed a joint FTA scoping exercise setting out the scope and ambition of a future FTA, and are working toward a launch of formal negotiations. On 22 May, the Council of the EU adopted a decision recommending the opening of FTA negotiations with Australia and we expect to launch negotiations shortly. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment welcomed the announcement to open negotiations for a landmark, job-creating Australia-EU FTA.
As part of this process, DFAT is seeking submissions from interested stakeholders.
Key interests and benefits
- A comprehensive, high-quality Australia-EU FTA would help to ensure our trade and investment relationship reaches its full potential
- An Australia-EU FTA would remove barriers to trade in goods
- An Australia-EU FTA could expand services linkages and investment ties
- An Australia-EU FTA could enhance regulatory cooperation in specific sectors of interest to business.