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Australian PM keen to ink EU free trade agreement 'as soon as possible'

The 43rd ASEAN Summit

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday that prospects of inking a free trade agreement with the European Union were better this year than in 2024, after talks stalled in July.

Discussions between Australia and the 450-million-person bloc hit a roadblock mid-year, partly over greater market access for Australian farm products like beef.

Speaking in New Dehli, India late on Saturday on the sidelines of a Group of 20 (G20) summit, Albanese said he had raised the issue with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the event and planned to raise it with French President Emmanuel Macron.

"I would like to see the Australia EU Free Trade Agreement settled as soon as possible," Albanese said, according to an official press conference transcript.

"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, because it does run into elections."

The EU and Australia opened talks on a trade deal in 2018 but differences remain particularly over the degree to which the EU will open its markets to some Australian farm products.

Australia wants more access to EU markets for its beef, lamb, dairy products and wines, much of which are subject to tariffs and quotas.

For the EU, a trade deal could help in its search for critical raw materials for its green and digital transition and reduce its reliance on China.

Last month, Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell told Reuters that a deal would simplify European investment in Australia's growing critical minerals sector.

(Reporting by Sam McKeith in Sydney; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)