With US-China trade tensions rising, Australia now more than ever needs to double down on getting competitive, including though negotiations for an Australia-European trade agreement, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said today.
“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 - we can start by pulling out all stops to get a deal with the EU done.
“If we get this right the EU-Australia free trade agreement could expand market access for Australian agricultural exporters, service providers and investors, growing national incomes along with Australian standards of living.
“Securing a much needed deal means Australian negotiators should not avoid addressing likely European concerns including on car tariffs and other taxes.
“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 in 2017.
“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.
“This deal can help put momentum back into the agenda for liberalisation and help to reduce the effects of the increased tariffs on US-China trade.”
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.