8 September 2023

Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has called on Trade Minister Don Farrell to back Australia’s prosecco producers, as free trade negotiations between Australia and the EU restart.

Australia and the European Union resumed free trade talks in August with a teleconference between Minister for Trade Don Farrell and EU Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis, a month after negotiations failed to reach a deal.

“A free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union holds great potential for Australian producers and consumers, and I support the principle of increasing trade avenues for our industries, particularly in agriculture,” Dr Haines said.

“However, I share the concerns of many in North East Victoria at what such a negotiation could mean for the livelihoods of our producers, if the Government was to sign on to an agreement which is bad for Australia.”

Negotiations stalled in July after the European Union’s offers on agricultural access did not go far enough for Australian negotiators. One sticking point remains the EU’s insistence that Australian producers cease labelling products with geographical indicators such as prosecco, feta and Parmesan. “I’ve long fought for Indi’s wine makers and grape growers to retain their rights to use the name prosecco,” Dr Haines said.

“Almost 60 per cent of Australia’s prosecco is grown in the beautiful King Valley in Indi, a key pillar of the viticulture industry which is a major employer in our region. Prosecco is worth more than $200 million a year to Australia’s economy in sales alone, with even more value added when you consider the tourism and hospitality industries as well.

“If the use of the name “prosecco” was banned, it would cause significant economic distress to this industry, causing confusion to consumers, adding significant costs, and reducing sales. Free trade agreements are supposed to increase prosperity and jobs, but a free trade agreement that sells out on prosecco would do the exact opposite.” The full text of the speech is available here.


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