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EU trade stink over Australian cheese and wine labels

Australia is willing to walk away from a possible free trade deal with the European Union over demands for Australian producers to stop using names including parmesan, feta and prosecco, says Agriculture Minister Murray Watt.

Greek-made feta for sale at Adelaide Central Market. Photo: AAP/David Mariuz

Greek-made feta for sale at Adelaide Central Market. Photo: AAP/David Mariuz

The EU has been pushing for geographic indicators to stop Australian producers from using certain names on labels, but Australian trade negotiators say the issue is not on the table, leading to a breakdown in talks.

While trade talks were set to be paused with the EU following the impasse, Watt said an agreement had been reached to continue negotiations.

Australia was being sensible in calling for geographic indicators not to be used.

“What we’re asking for is perfectly reasonable, especially when you compare it to what other countries have been able to negotiate with the EU,” Watt said on Thursday.

“It’s an emotional issue for Australian producers because we’ve had a lot of migration post World War II from Europe to Australia that has seen our producers … bring their own products from their home countries and make them here.”

Trade Minister Don Farrell held talks on the issue in Brussels last week as part of the latest round of negotiations, with hopes to land the deal by the middle of the year.

Should the EU free trade agreement go ahead, it would give Australian producers greater access to a market of more than 450 million people.

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However, Watt said the trade agreement could not proceed if negotiations kept stalling.

“There is a lot at stake because, of course, it’s important that we do keep opening new and expanded markets for our agricultural producers in Australia, let alone the other goods that we want to export to the EU,” he said.

“Our strong preference is to have a deal reached to open up that market access for our agricultural producers and all sorts of other Australian goods and service producers, but if it’s not in our national interest to do the deal, then we won’t do it.”

-with AAP

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