An attempt to negotiate a free trade deal between Australia and the Europe has stalled over a dispute around the names of some Australian agricultural products including feta, prosecco, prosciutto and parmesan.
EU negotiators are refusing to give Australian farmers cheaper access to the European market unless they rename Australian-made versions of the products.
Here’s what you need to know.
Most countries restrict what other countries can bring into their markets. This can include bans of certain goods, but more commonly takes the form of ‘tariffs’ (taxes).
When countries negotiate trade deals (sometimes called ‘free’ trade deals), each country is seeking more favourable access for their exporters, and a reduction on import restrictions.
The EU, which includes 27 countries, operates as a single market and negotiates trade deals as one entity.
Australia has been trying to negotiate a trade deal with the European Union since 2018.
With a population of over 445 million, Europe is Australia’s third-largest trading partner. In 2021-22, there was $97 billion of trade between the two.
Trade Minister Don Farrell travelled to Belgium this week in an attempt to finalise the deal, but warned negotiations had been “difficult” and Australia was not happy with what the European negotiators had offered.
This week’s talks failed to reach an outcome, with negotiations now delayed until at least August.
A major sticking point for Australia has been Europe’s insistence on ‘geographic indicators’ that would restrict naming rights for products not manufactured in their ‘traditional’ place of origin, such as prosecco.
A common example is champagne. Over many years, France has secured the agreement of over 100 countries, including Australia, to grant exclusive use of the name ‘champagne’ to wine made in the Champagne region of France according to traditional methods.
The Australian Government says getting greater access to the EU for agricultural products would be “incredibly valuable”, but has been unwilling to agree to the EU’s naming rights demands, which Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has called an “emotional issue” for many Australian producers.
“We’ve had a lot of migration post-World War II from Europe to Australia that has seen our producers… bring their own products from their home countries and make them here… We want to make sure [that] is recognised by the EU”, Watt said in an interview last month.