The peak body representing Australian farmers has called for the federal government to walk away from a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU).
In a statement issued from its Canberra headquarters on Monday, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) said that farmers feared being sold out by a bad deal with the EU.
Don Farrell, the Minister for Trade and Tourism, will later in October travel to the G7 trade ministers’ meeting where he will meet with his EU counterpart, Valdis Dombrovskis, in a bid to conclude negotiations on the landmark trade deal after five years of talks.
NFF president Fiona Simson on Monday said that the current deal on the table offers no benefits for Australian farmers, urging Farrell to walk away if the deal does not offer better conditions.
“Everything we’ve seen so far would actually send parts of our sector backwards. We’ve never seen a proposed trade deal like it,” she said in Monday’s statement.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the EU is Australia’s third-largest two-way trading partner and second-largest source of foreign investment.
DFAT has said an FTA with the EU would give Australian exporters sending their goods and services to the EU a competitive edge.
However, Simson said there has been no indication that the EU is willing to offer a commercially meaningful deal for Australia’s agriculture sector.
“The current proposal would lock Aussie farmers in at a disadvantage for the next half century,” she said.