Meat & Livestock News

German Exporters Express Discontent Over Stalled EU-Australia Trade Deal

The abrupt halt in the EU-Australia free-trade agreement negotiations has sparked frustration among German exporters, particularly within the machinery and car industries, who stood to gain significantly from the deal.

The negotiations, which have been ongoing for over a year, reached an impasse due to disagreements on agricultural market access, specifically regarding Australian sheep meat and beef.

Karl Haeusgen, president of the German machinery producers association VDMA, labelled the collapse of talks over what he termed a “ridiculous issue” and suggested that a more sovereign approach by the EU could have prevented this setback.

The VDMA has criticised the disproportionate influence of agricultural interests on trade deals, considering agriculture’s minor contribution to the EU’s GDP at only 1.7%.

The failure to conclude the trade agreement was confirmed at the G7 meeting in Osaka, with EU and Australian trade representatives unable to resolve their differences on agricultural market access.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck expressed his surprise at the breakdown, given his attention had been on trade negotiations with the Mercosur bloc.

Habeck proposed the possibility of pursuing non-comprehensive agreements, focusing on machinery and industrial goods, to circumvent the recurrent agricultural roadblocks.

This development raises concerns for the future of the EU-Mercosur deal, although Haeusgen remains hopeful that an agreement will eventually be reached. The ongoing negotiations have been complicated by the EU’s insistence on environmental safeguards, particularly regarding deforestation, which has been met with resistance from South American countries.

The German government is now seeking to persuade France of the benefits of the EU-Mercosur agreement, with Franziska Brantner, the parliamentary state secretary in charge of trade at the Economy Ministry, advocating for the deal at the EU-CELAC summit.

The impasse over the EU-Australia trade deal reflects broader tensions in global trade negotiations, where agricultural interests often clash with industrial sectors, highlighting the need for a balanced approach to trade policy.