With US-China trade tensions rising, the Business Council has called on the government to expedite negotiations for a trade agreement with Europe.
Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said a trade deal with the EU would put momentum back into the agenda for liberalisation and help to reduce the effects of the increased tariffs on US-China trade.
“We’re not immune to global economic shocks and that’s exactly why we need to make Australia more globally competitive to protect Australian workers,” said Ms Westacott. “We can start by pulling out all stops to get a deal with the EU done.”
Ms Westacott said an EU-Australia free trade agreement could expand market access for Australian agricultural exporters, service providers and investors, growing national incomes and Australian living standards.
“Securing a much-needed deal means Australian negotiators should not avoid addressing likely European concerns including on car tariffs and other taxes.
Second largest goods trading partner
“The best protection for Australian workers is a growing economy fuelled by new investment and easier access to global market. The Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement has the potential to be one of the most significant in Australia’s history.”
The EU, which includes 28 countries, can be considered Australia’s second largest merchandise goods trading partner, with $67.4 billion in total imports and exports last year.
“The negotiations demonstrate Australia’s and the EU’s commitment to rules-based global trade at time when the voices against freer and more liberal trade are increasingly louder, in Australia and abroad,” Ms Westacott said.
The Business Council’s submission to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the negotiations for the Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement (A-EU FTA) is available here.