PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Australian resources sector has welcomed the start of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between Australia and the European Union (EU), with the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) saying it would present a significant opportunity to boost trade, investment and economic engagement between the two regions.
Federal Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Steven Ciobo on Wednesday said that formal negotiations with the EU would start in June.
MCA interim CEO David Byers said that an FTA with the EU, would be a significant addition to Australia’s network of bilateral and regional FTAs, which support exports and jobs in Australia.
“While the EU is not as significant a market for Australian mining exports as the economies of East Asia, coal, gold and lead are amongst Australia’s largest goods exports to the EU, worth around A$8.8-billion in 2017.
“The EU has relatively low tariffs on most resources commodities. However, there are a number of minerals and metals commodities where it imposes tariffs of up to 9%, including aluminium, lead, zinc, titanium and antimony,” Byers said.
He noted that an Australia-EU FTA provided an opportunity to remove these tariffs on Australian resources exports.
“Australian mining could also benefit from reductions in Australian tariffs on European mining-related equipment and manufactures such as machinery, heavy vehicles and chemicals,” Byers said.
Ciobo said that Australia would be working to secure better access for the country’s food and agriculture products, creating the framework for open, fair and equitable trade.
“The government will also be working to lock in better access for Australian services exporters, expand two-way investment flows and deliver a more seamless business environment. We will explore rules and initiatives to support the digital economy and innovation, which are important for small and medium-sized enterprises,” Ciobo said.
As a bloc, the EU is Australia’s second largest trading partner, third largest export destination and second largest services export market. The EU was Australia’s largest source of foreign investment in 2017.