The prime minister says there have been positive signs in long-stalled negotiations over a free-trade deal between Australia and the European Union.
Anthony Albanese held talks with European leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi, India, with time running out for the deal to be finalised by the end of the year.
If a deal is not reached by then, negotiations are likely to be stalled for a considerable time due to European Union elections taking place in 2024.
While both sides have been keen to ink the trade agreement, there has been an impasse over the use of geographical indicators for products such as prosecco and feta.
Europe has wanted Australia to stop using the indicators, similar to naming conventions surrounding champagne, in exchange for Australia being able to increase exports such as beef and lamb into the European market.
The prime minister said he wanted to see the trade deal with the EU finalised quickly.
“We will wait and see … our officials have continued to have discussions, but I would like to see the Australia-EU free-trade agreement settled as soon as possible,” Albanese said.
“It’s quite clear with the timetables that are there that the prospects of that being done are much greater this year than next year.”
While on the sidelines of the G20, Albanese held bilateral talks with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, where the pair discussed the trade deal negotiations.
Albanese brought up the deal during informal discussions with the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz.
He also met informally with the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, before the summit.
Albanese said the talks with the EU had been positive.
“We won’t sign up to an agreement for the sake of having an agreement,” Albanese told reporters on Saturday night.
“We believe that you can get an agreement because trade is good for both parties, that is in Australia’s national interest and in the interests of the European Union.”
Australian officials had indicated they were willing to walk away from the deal should the negotiations stall.
The trade minister, Don Farrell, met with his European counterparts in Brussels earlier in 2023.
Australia has been locked in trade talks with the EU over the terms of the agreement for the past five years.
The EU was Australia’s second-largest trading partner in 2020, as well as the seventh-largest export destination, fourth-largest services market and second-largest source of foreign investment.
Albanese will give a second address to the summit on the final day of the leaders’ meeting on Sunday. The speech is expected to talk about the global rules-based order and stability in the region, as well as efforts to accelerate progress to net-zero emissions.
In a leaders’ declaration issued on day one of the summit in New Delhi, nations agreed on the Ukraine conflict that all states “must refrain from threats” and that “today’s era must not be war”.
There had been concern before the start of the summit that the event would be the first time the G20 has not delivered a consensus statement, due to Russia being unwilling to condemn its own military action in Ukraine.
Albanese welcomed the leaders’ declaration and said the G20 had delivered its most striking condemnation of Russia’s invasion.
“The G20 has delivered a strong consensus on Russia’s war on Ukraine, that message is very strong language and is the strongest language yet to be agreed by the international community,” the prime minister said on Saturday night.
“A backdrop of this G20 has been the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the impact it’s having on the global economy, on food security, as well as obviously the devastating impact of of this war on the people of Ukraine.”
Albanese said the message from leaders repudiating the war was “extraordinarily strong”.
“Speaker after speaker reiterated the need for Russia to stop this war, which [President Vladimir Putin] can do today,” he said.
“Russia has to have gotten the message that this is having a devastating impact and that the world wants this war to stop because of the impact on the people of Ukraine.”