Australia-EU FTA – Report on Negotiating Round Eleven, 1-11 June 2021
The eleventh round of Australia – European Union Free Trade Agreement (Australia-EU FTA) negotiations took place virtually on 1-11 June. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade led the Australian delegation, which included representatives from more than ten government agencies.
Building on the face-to-face meetings in Brussels between then Minister Tehan and EU Trade Commissioner Dombrovskis in April, the Parties made substantive progress during the round. We provisionally agreed a framework for mutual recognition of professional services qualifications, and worked towards a second exchange of market access offers on goods, services and investment, and government procurement.
Trade in Goods
The Parties had further constructive discussions on market access, including for agricultural products. The Parties commenced consideration of parameters to guide the exchange of second goods market access offers and advanced Trade in Goods chapter text, including definitions.
The Parties discussed the small number of issues outstanding in the government procurement chapter, and how to achieve a mutually beneficial market access outcome.
Rules of Origin
We closed two articles in the Rules of Origin (ROO) chapter text, and advanced others across both origin rules and procedures. Detailed discussion on verification and denial procedures allowed us to further align our positions. The Parties discussed Product Specific Rules (PSRs) for agricultural products, textiles and machinery; and provisionally agreed a further 12 chapters of the PSRs. The ROO group will continue to meet intersessionally to progress the text and PSRs negotiations.
Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters / Anti-Fraud
The Parties agreed additional elements of the definitions and exceptions articles of the Protocol on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters, and came closer to resolving the only other outstanding article on confidentiality. The Parties continued discussions on the EU's proposed Anti-Fraud mechanism.
Discussions on Trade Remedies focussed on procedural rules for bilateral safeguard measures and the EU's proposed safeguard mechanism for the EU's Outermost Regions. The Parties agreed that most of the outstanding elements of the text would need to be resolved in parallel with goods market access.
Competition and Subsidies
On Anticompetitive Conduct and Merger Control, the Parties worked on finding a way to reflect the exemptions in our respective competition laws and agreed to text on cooperation.
On competition policy on subsidies, we continued to narrow differences on outstanding issues. Both sides discussed how to manage sensitivities to enable further progress on these issues.
Technical barriers to trade (TBT)
The TBT group had detailed discussions on Scope, Standards, International Standards and the Vehicles annex, narrowing outstanding differences in the chapter text.
Services and Investment
We provisionally closed the mutual recognition and professional services chapter, which included a framework for the mutual recognition of professional services qualifications between the Parties. The Delivery Services chapter has also been concluded, providing opportunities for our express delivery services. The Domestic Regulation, Telecommunications and Maritime Services chapters are close to conclusion. The Parties were also able to resolve a number of issues in the Temporary Entry of Natural Persons chapter. Outstanding issues in remaining services and investment chapter texts have been narrowed down to key substantive issues. We continued to engage on our respective services and investment market access interests in preparation for exchanging second market access offers.
The Parties bridged a number of gaps in the Intellectual Property chapter, including in the copyright, designs and enforcement sections and narrowed differences on outstanding issues. We continued discussions on geographic indications, including discussing EU proposals on GIs chapter text. We will continue to focus on finding ways forward on issues raised by Australian stakeholders, noting that we will not agree to protect EU GI terms unless the overall deal is in our interests.
SPS and Animal Welfare
Further negotiations were held on the SPS Chapter, and we continued discussions on EU proposals on scientific robustness and transparency in product approvals processes and on cooperation on sustainable food systems.
State-owned Enterprises (SOEs)
The Parties continued to narrow outstanding issues in the SOEs chapter negotiations, with very few outstanding provisions remaining.
Energy and Raw Materials
The Parties had further detailed discussions on text, including in relation to environmental impact assessments; offshore risk and safety; and third-party access, and agreed to engage in further domestic consultations on both sides.
Trade and Sustainable Development
The Parties discussed issues across the chapter including labour standards, trade and gender equality, and provisionally agreed articles on trade and biodiversity, trade and wildlife and environmental goods and services.
Both Parties discussed the EU's new procedural proposals noting most outstanding issues in this chapter have been resolved.
Transparency, Exceptions, Institutional and Final provisions
Following the round, the Transparency chapter is close to being finalised. The Parties also engaged in detailed discussions on the Exceptions, Institutional and Final Provisions chapters, where both Parties were able to agree a number of articles.
The parties cleaned all text on the Open Government Data rule, and worked on the source code article and chapter definitions. Parties agreed to meet intersessionally to engage in deeper discussions on data and privacy.