Brussels – Trade between the European Union and Australia is currently governed by a partnership framework agreed in 2008, which aims to reduce technical barriers to trade and improve the exchange of services and investment.
As a bloc, the EU is Australia’s second largest trading partner, third largest export destination, and second largest services market. The EU was also Australia’s largest source of foreign investment in 2017.
18th largest trade partner of EU
But for the EU, Australia is just the 18th largest trade partner, with 1.3 per cent share in EU total trade.
Most of the trade between the two parties focuses around industrial products, with a small share in agricultural products.
Australia and the EU traded 47.7 billion euros (56 billion dollars) worth of goods last year, with EU exports to Australia worth 34.7 billion euros and Australia selling 13 billion euros worth of goods to the EU, according to data compiled by the European Commission.
The EU mainly sells manufactured goods to Australia, for example machinery and transport equipment, as well as chemicals and pharmaceuticals, amounting to about 86 per cent of the total exports.
Agricultural products, like food and fish, cover about 11 per cent.
Australia’s exports include mineral commodities, like fuels and mining products, as well as agricultural products.
Australia has wanted better access to the EU markets for decades, with Brexit and the recent US protectionist measures accelerating the negotiations.
Australia is trying to export more food and agricultural products to Europe, which has raised concerns in some European markets about Australian products, including cheese, wine and meat.
Australia is also trying to exploit opportunities for Australian services exporters, with a focus on education, financial and professional services.
Removal of customs duties
The EU says the deal will result in the removal of customs duties as well as simpler procedures for product testing, which would be beneficial given that Australia has one of the hardest import conditions due to its quarantine regulations.
According to EU projections, trade in goods between Australia and the EU could increase by 37 per cent in the case of an ambitious trade deal and the trade in services could increase by 8 per cent.