For the last twenty years Australia and the European Union have been seeking an enduring model for a closer intergovernmental and business relationship. Since October 2010 the two have been negotiating a treaty-level Framework Agreement, which would provide for closer cooperation and consultation across a range of policy areas. Specific commitments in trade policy are not, however, envisaged by either side. After more than three years these negotiations have not yet been finalised.
The EU has recently sought Free Trade Agreements with many of Australia’s major Asia-Pacific and OECD trading partners such as South Korea, India, Singapore, Canada, Japan and the United States. These ‘new generation’ FTAs aim to go beyond border measures such as tariffs. Proposed liberalisations extend to ‘behind the border’ regulatory barriers impacting on trade in both goods and services. At the same time, prospects for revitalising the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations are not bright.
Given these realities and the importance of the EU as a trading partber for Australia, is it time to explore an FTA between the EU and Australia?
This conference brings together current knowledge on Australia-EU trade relations and recent negotiating experiences of both parties in order to examine issues and prospects for an EU-Australia FTA. It examines opportunities that such an agreement could offer and probes the priority issues for both sides. It identifies key barriers that FTA negotiations would need to overcome for benefits to be realised. Particular attention will be given to recent negotiations between the EU and Canada for a ‘Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement’ – now close to completion – as a point of comparison with Australia, given similarities in interests and trade profiles.
The programme features speakers representing private enterprise, government and academia, and include a panel discussion on views of Australian and European business chaired by the European Australian Business Council.It includes:
- Roderick Abbott, European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), Brussels
- Bruce Gosper, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Trade Commission (Austrade)
- Pascal Kerneis, European Services Forum, Brussels
- Daniel Schwanen, CD Howe Institute, Canada
- Yoo-Duk Kang, Korean Institute for International Economic Policy
- Deborah Elms, Temasaek Foundation Centre for Trade and Negotiations, Nanyang University Singapore
For more informaiton please visit the Conference website.