The Australia and New Zealand Network Connect meeting was held in December 2020. Our guest presenter was Jason Collins, CEO of the European Australian Business Council (EABC) and Chair of the European Business Organisation Worldwide (EBO). Jason provided a unique insight into the upcoming Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Australia. This contribution is from the EABC and summarises Jason’s discussion.
As an organisation whose mission is to promote trade, investment and institutional cooperation between Australia and Europe, the EABC has been a longstanding advocate of a comprehensive and mutually-rewarding Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and Australia. The EABC warmly welcomed the launch of negotiations in 2018, and strong political focus and commitment has underpinned nine successful rounds of negotiation held since then, with the ambition to close a deal in 2021.
Australia is a like-minded, trusted partner for the EU in the Indo-Pacific region. In a context of geopolitical tensions and COVID-19 recovery, there is a crucial strategic interest to seize the momentum behind the FTA to deepen and broaden the bilateral relationship and diversify and secure critical supply chains, while expanding cooperation in a wide range of existing and emerging multilateral and domestic policy issues, including the rules-based trading system, climate change, cybersecurity, foreign investment screening, and many others.
An FTA would also foster already strong two-way business connections. European companies have been major contributors to Australia’s economic prosperity, helping Australia build world-class infrastructure, develop cutting-edge defence capabilities, and support energy transition, with already 24% of Australia’s electricity generated by renewables in 2019 largely supported by European investment; while many Australian companies and investors have continuously increased their focus on continental Europe as a stable and prosperous market.
Looking forward, European-Australian complementarities in capabilities and needs across many strategic sectors will create new business opportunities.
Following on from this, amfori is progressing with development of the local auditing market. Having completed auditor training in 2020, amfori has the resources available to support members to conduct audits in the Australian and New Zealand markets, strengthening trade opportunities and relationships following the completion of the Free Trade Agreement.