Meat & Livestock News

Australian Meat Industry Council Urges Caution in EU Trade Deal Negotiations

Cutting meat in slaughterhouse.

The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) has urged the Australian Government to proceed cautiously in its free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the European Union (EU). The council emphasises that any agreement should offer substantial benefits to Australian red meat processors and exporters, devoid of trade barriers.

The Current State of Trade

Australian meat quota holders and exporters have invested significantly in establishing trade relations with the EU over several decades. Despite these efforts, current trade conditions, characterised by outdated quotas and high tariffs, have limited the volume of meat exports. As a result, Australian meat remains a rare commodity for most Europeans.

AMIC’s Stance

Patrick Hutchinson, CEO of AMIC, stated that the FTA with the EU presents a unique opportunity to rectify an inherently unfair trading system that Australian meat exporters have long faced. “The government must ensure that any agreement enhances tariff and quota access without introducing new trade barriers,” he said.

Hutchinson further noted that while the EU seems poised to achieve most of its initial objectives in the FTA, the offerings to Australia, particularly in the agricultural sector, appear less equitable.

“Accepting a substandard deal would essentially go against the spirit of a ‘free’ trade agreement and would put the Australian red meat sector at a significant disadvantage for years,” he warned.

A Crucial Juncture

The negotiations have reached a critical point, with both sides having worked for years to arrive at this stage. Hutchinson emphasised that this is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” that is too important to mishandle. “We don’t just want any deal; we want the best deal,” he concluded.

About AMIC

The Australian Meat Industry Council represents the post-farm gate meat industry in Australia, encompassing processors, smallgoods manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, independent retail butchers, and exporters.