The European Union and Australia have today given their businesses a trade boost by agreeing on a reviewed Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA), which will simplify the certification of products for export, including medical devices, electrical equipment and telecommunications equipment. EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton and Australian Minister for Trade Simon Crean initialled the reviewed text at the launch of the 2009 EU-Australia Trade Policy Dialogue. They also sought a revival of negotiations to complete the Doha Round of world trade talks, calling for discussions to look at a wider range of issues that will be part of the final package.
Commissioner Ashton said: “Our businesses and consumers need an international system that facilitates trade and investment, not one that creates more barriers. The review of the Mutual Recognition Agreement is a practical way to respond to that need, but more than anything else we must complete the Doha Round next year.”
The MRA facilitates trade by allowing conformity assessment (testing, inspection and certification) of products traded between Europe and Australia to be undertaken in the exporting country, rather than have to be carried out on arrival in the importing country. It applies to a wide range of sectors, ranging from medical devices to low voltage electrical equipment and telecommunications terminal equipment (mobile phones, fax machines, etc). The new text has adapted the original agreement signed in 1998 to the evolving legal and economic context. The agreement covers goods worth around EUR 8 billion in annual bilateral trade.
Commissioner Ashton and Minister Crean in an article for the Wall Street Journal on Monday called for the swift resumption of talks to conclude the Doha Round. They argued that negotiations should now be broadened beyond agriculture and industrial goods to look at other important elements of the final package, including trade in services and so-called “sectoral” deals.
The Trade Policy Dialogue also discussed bilateral cooperation in key strategic sectors such as raw materials and trade and climate change. There was consensus on the need to keep markets open and avoid restrictions to access to raw materials, and the two sides decided to intensify cooperation on raw materials in the WTO. Commissioner Ashton welcomed Australia’s policy to set up a cap and trade system similar to the EU Emission Trading System. The two sides identified a successful conclusion of the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen as the best way to avoid trade frictions arising from differences in climate change policies.
The Trade Policy Dialogue (TPD) was established in 2007 to strengthen the bilateral trade coordination between the EU and Australia. The broad remit of the TPD is to examine the global trading system and coordinate actions at multilateral level as well as to address strategic bilateral trade-related issues, ranging from trade in goods to investment and services issues.
For the article by Commissioner Ashton and Minister Crean, go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124561593104634979.html
For more information on EU-Australia trade relations see the Memo 09/286 or go to: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/