EU beef trade deal welcomed

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman
Australia-EU Red Meat Access Taskforce chairman Jason Strong.
Camera IconAustralia-EU Red Meat Access Taskforce chairman Jason Strong. Credit: Countryman

WA’s beef industry may not benefit directly from the recently launched Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement, but the State’s sheepmeat industry is a ready player.

While the WA’s sheepmeat processing plants are already contributing to the European trade, the State’s beef processing sector is presently not qualified under EU certification.

WAMMCO chief executive Col MacRury welcomed the prospect of flexibility into an EU sheepmeat market that has been significantly restricted for many years.

“We value this better access trade agreement and understand the EU market requires high-grade supermarket product,” he said.

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Fletcher International general manager Greg Cross said improvement were under way on the Narrikup plant to supply “second to none” Australian sheepmeat product to the EU.

The successful EU trade negotiation was announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Minister for Trade Steven Ciobo and the European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom on June 18.

Australia-EU Red Meat Market Access Task Force chairman Jason Strong said the announcement was a positive first step in seeking to improve market access arrangements with a long-term customer of Australian beef and sheepmeat.

“The launch of FTA negotiations with the EU provides a significant opportunity to revisit Australia’s red meat access to the European market for the first time in over 40 years,” Mr Strong said.

“The EU is a major consumer of imported meat — with the European Commission identifying an ongoing requirement for both imported beef and sheepmeat due to deficits in domestic supply.

“While Australia is ideally positioned to help service this market requirement via dedicated supply chains, our access is limited by the EU’s highly restrictive import regime. Compared with many other countries supplying the EU, Australia experiences disproportionately low volume quotas, high duties within certain quotas and trade prohibitive above quota tariffs.”

For beef, Australia has access to a country specific quota of only 7150 tonnes, as well as 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 2 per cent of total EU sheepmeat consumption. “Australia’s trading relationship with the EU is based on shared values and is heavily focused on meeting EU customer demand for high quality red meat products,” Mr Strong said.

Mr Strong said the task force was encouraged by the Australian Government’s commitment that it would seek an ambitious and comprehensive FTA with the EU, prioritising enhanced access for agricultural products, including Australian red meat.

“We look forward to working closely with Australia’s negotiating team to deliver the best possible result for Australian red meat producers, processors and exporters,” Mr Strong said.

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