The fourth round of negotiations on the Australia-EU FTA was held in Brussels on 1-5 July. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade led the Australian delegation, which included representatives from ten other government agencies. A Deputy Director-General for Trade led the EU delegation.
We made good progress across the FTA in a positive and constructive atmosphere, further agreeing text and narrowing differences across the board.
We have not yet started the market access stage of negotiations, but both sides discussed the parameters for exchanging initial market access offers for goods, as well as separately for services and investment and government procurement.
We will hold the fifth round of negotiations in October 2019, and will hold intersessional videoconferences on a range of issues before then.
Trade in Goods
Australia and the EU made further progress on the National Treatment and Market Access for Goods chapter, with many provisions now agreed. The Parties also held constructive discussions goods market access.
Rules of Origin
Australia and the EU held useful Rules of Origin (ROO) discussions, including in-depth exchanges on key, trade facilitating elements of the ROO text. We held the first detailed discussions on each side’s proposals for Product-Specific Rules for agricultural products.
Customs and Trade Facilitation
Australia and the EU agreed or partially agreed to provisions throughout the Customs and Trade Facilitation chapter, which builds on the Parties’ existing obligations under the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation.
Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters
Australia and the EU made substantial progress on the Protocol on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters, and have now reached agreement on the majority of provisions. A small number of outstanding issues remain for joint consideration with other working groups.
Australia and the EU agreed on a range of provisions relating to anti-dumping and countervailing duties in the Trade Remedies chapter. We will prepare for further discussion on these issues, as well as bilateral transitional safeguards within the FTA.
Negotiations on the State-Owned Enterprises chapter were productive, with discussion focused on clarifying which entities and sectors might fall within the scope of the Chapter.
Competition and Subsidies
Australia and the EU held positive discussions on the Competition Policy: Anticompetitive Conduct, Merger Control and Subsidies chapter. We clarified individual provisions, and improved our understanding of our respective competition laws and policies.
Australia and the EU continued to make steady progress on government procurement. We agreed to a number of provisions which accommodated both parties’ respective government procurement processes.
Technical Barriers to Trade
Australia and the EU agreed to further provisions across a range of articles, including technical regulations, international standards, conformity assessment and transparency. Australia and the EU held further discussions on the EU’s proposed annexes on automotives and supplier declarations of conformity. Australia continues to seek views from Australian stakeholders on possible sectoral annexes. Sectoral annexes can be used to promote common standards and harmonisation of requirements for specific products.
Services and Investment
We held dedicated sessions on investment liberalisation, capital movements, cross-border trade in services, financial services, entry and temporary stay, domestic regulation, professional services, delivery services, international maritime transport services and telecommunication services. We were able to make progress in agreeing the text of a number of the core services and investment definitions and commitments, and in exchanging views on areas of the text where the Party’s past practices differ.
We discussed issues where we have a common approach, such as not imposing customs duties on electronic transmissions, paperless trading, consumer protection and spam. We clarified our respective positions on data flows and protection of personal data.
Both sides focused on areas where we could make progress, successfully narrowing differences in areas such as general provisions, copyright and trademarks. The EU continues to demonstrate strong offensive interests on geographical indications.
SPS and Animal Welfare
We made good progress in the Working Group on SPS and Animal Welfare, substantially completing key articles such as Equivalence and Audit and Verification.
Trade and Sustainable Development
Australia and the EU discussed provisions on labour standards and multilateral environmental agreements, including on climate change. Both sides provided further explanation of their respective approaches to the chapter. We agreed on a number of provisions on corporate social responsibility and sustainable fisheries management.
Energy and Raw Materials
Australia and the EU discussed possible provisions on energy and raw materials. Australia explained that many of the EU’s proposed provisions would affect state and territory governments.
Australia and the EU made further progress on the Dispute Settlement chapter. In particular, both parties agreed to a number of procedural timeframes throughout the chapter.
Transparency and Good Regulatory Practices
Australia and the EU had further detailed discussions regarding the Transparency and Good Regulatory Practices chapters. We noted our common practices and continue to discuss and develop text proposals to reflect our respective systems.
Small and Medium Enterprises
Australia and the EU made good progress in reaching agreement on several provisions on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Both Parties are now working toward finding the best way to present information on trading, investing or doing business in each other’s territory, in a way that is readily accessible to both European and Australian SMEs.