G20 LIVE: the EU trade gold rush continues as EU and Australia agree to launch Free Trade Agreement (FTA) live from Antalya Turkey

ANTALYA, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 15 : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) greets Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (R) during the 'Welcoming Ceremony' prior to the G20 Turkey Leaders Summit on November 15, 2015 in Antalya, Turkey. Kayhan Ozer / Anadolu Agency

ANTALYA, TURKEY – NOVEMBER 15 : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) greets Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (R) during the ‘Welcoming Ceremony’ prior to the G20 Turkey Leaders Summit on November 15, 2015 in Antalya, Turkey. Kayhan Ozer / Anadolu Agency

While the outcomes of the last round of the TTIP negotiations and the many recent turning points are still dominating the conversation on the trade side in Brussels, another major happening broke a few days ago. Following talks at G20 Leaders Summit in Antalya Turkey last Sunday morning with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker announced that the bloc agreed to begin negotiations towards a Free Trade Agreement with Australia.

The European Sting was the only Brussels-based EU media in Antalya and produced an extensive and unique Live report from the International Media Center.

Common values and vision

With a joint statement between President Juncker, Mr. Turnbull and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk the EU officially started to “deepen the EU-Australia relationship”, which is “rooted in common interests, values and heritage”, as the statement says, and welcomed the finalisation of the negotiations of the EU-Australia Framework Agreement.

“We believe that an FTA will support sustainable growth and investment, open up new commercial opportunities and promote innovation and employment in Australia and the EU”, underscored the three leaders last Sunday. “We will aim to achieve a comprehensive and balanced outcome that liberalises trade, promotes productive investment flows and enhances the regulatory environment for business”, the statement also says.

Germany’s support

The recent EU-Australia agreement came with no anticipation or important rumor in the last months, but it’s certainly the result of a well structured work by the leaders of the two economic powers. Indeed when the Australian Prime Minister met with German chancellor Angela Merkel during his one-day visit in Berlin last Friday and discussed the possibilities of a trade agreement it was clear Mr. Turnbull was securing the support of Australia. Chancellor Merkel reportedly told Mr. Turnbull she supported the FTA and would use her country’s influence to help make it happen.

“It is a very important step for us to have an FTA with Europe,” Turnbull told President Tusk and President Juncker on the sidelines of the first day of the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Antalya, Turkey. “This is the first substantive step and it is very important,” he added.

“Exciting new opportunities”

Andrew Robb, the Australian Minister for Trade and Investment, said in a statement last Monday that having started the discussions around the FTA is “a significant step towards expanding our trade, investment and economic links with the EU”. “The commitment between Australia and the EU to work towards the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement is a major step forward in unlocking exciting new trade and investment opportunities”, Mr. Robb maintained on Monday.

Mr. Robb’s cabinet also declared that, as part of the domestic consultative processes the EU and Australia will start after last weekend’s announcement; the Australian government will be inviting input from interested individuals and groups. “We welcome submissions from stakeholders, including the business community, the non-government sector and the general community, on the potential opportunities and impacts from a future FTA with the EU”, Mr. Robb underlined.

Trade: the new gold rush

It seems there is currently  some kind of gold rush going on, as the world is apparently relying on trade like never before. Mammoth trade agreements like the EU-US TTIP and the 12-country Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) are indeed leading the scene. Two weeks ago, the EU also announced that it will launch new free trade talks with New Zealand also, despite potentially delicate issues in the agricultural sector may incur.

A quick cure

Truth is that the global economy is not growing as the initial forecasts were saying, and is not recovering from the financial crisis as markets and investors were hoping. Facilitating trade became immediately not only an efficient answer to such global issue, but also a quick resolution. The problem is that sometimes negotiating trade agreements like the TTIP, as our readers know very well – with infinite aspects on the desk to be shaped – is definitely not a “quickie”.

It is clear that Australia definitely doesn’t want to miss the huge opportunity the FTA might bring. The EU bloc represents Australia’s second largest trading partner with two-way trade exceeding $80 billion, which is more than 12 per cent of Australia’s total trade value. Trade is indeed one of Australia’s biggest challenges to secure growth, and the Oceanian country is continuously allocating resources to it. “Having concluded landmark trade deals with Korea, Japan and China, along with negotiations for TPP, the EU is certainly the next frontier when it comes to future agreements”, Mr. Robb highlighted on Monday.

The negotiations on the EU-Australia FTA are due to commence in 2017. Mr. Turnbull reportedly told President Juncker it was “understandable” that the EU needed time to negotiate its own starting position, given it had 28 member states to deal with.

Putting 28 different opinions together to do trade with the rest of the world is certainly not an easy one.

The European Sting came all the way from Brussels to Antalya to report LIVE for its prominent readers top class coverage of the G20 Leaders’ Summit. Do you crave for cutting-edge high quality journalism by Europe’s rising star independent media over this hot long weekend of 15-16 November 2015?

Stay now tuned at www.europeansting.com for 24 hour LIVE Coverage and LIVE Video Streaming from the International Media Center in Belek, Antalya, Turkey. Not your style? You can also keep track of our dozens of social media that are on fire!

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