With the recent official launch of the Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement (A-EU FTA) negotiations, the Australian red meat industry continues to focus on promoting our product and securing access arrangements that are beneficial for our industry.
Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) recently hosted its annual Brussels barbecue, which provided a timely opportunity to continue to promote Australian red meat with EU decision-makers at such a crucial time in our industry’s attempts to secure greater access to the market.
Almost 650 Europeans gathered at the event where the official launch of the FTA negotiations was the number one topic. The barbecue is a key opportunity to engage with MLA’s influential network of policymakers in the European Parliament and emphasise the need to strengthen our trading relations. This year’s event attracted 12 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and their advisers, key trade and agriculture contacts, friends of the Australian embassy, European agricultural industry bodies and EU meat importers.
MLA, on behalf of industry, has worked hard to build this network of contacts in Europe who would like to see greater trade with Australia.
Deputy Head of Mission to Belgium and Luxembourg and Permanent Mission to the EU and NATO Helen Stylianou spoke in support of MLA’s advocacy efforts in Brussels and the Australian red meat industry’s pursuit of achieving enhanced trading conditions under a future FTA with the EU.
Ms Stylianou said the FTA signalled a positive step forward for Australia’s agriculture industry, not only via the opportunity to help the EU with its imported red meat requirements, but also in securing improved access to the EU consumer market of more than 500 million people.
While it’s a lucrative market, the EU’s continued protectionist stance towards agricultural imports has restricted Australia’s ability to respond to market demands and these trading conditions have remained unchanged for 40 years.
Looking at our red meat exports to the EU, Australia has access to a country specific quota of only 7150 tonnes for beef, and shared access to a 45,000 tonne global grainfed beef quota, which in combination represent a meagre 0.2 per cent of total EU beef consumption. For sheepmeat/goatmeat, Australia’s country specific quota is just 19,186 tonnes or less than 2pc of total EU sheepmeat consumption.
The European Commission estimates an additional 218,000 tonnes of sheepmeat and 353,000 tonnes of beef will be required per annum to meet projected EU domestic meat consumption by 2030. Australia is well placed to help meet this demand with improved access conditions.
MLA will continue working with industry and the Australian Government towards securing access arrangements that are beneficial for the Australian red meat supply chain as well as European consumers.
- Josh Anderson is MLA International Business Manager – Europe & Russia