PM seeks swift resolution on EU free-trade agreement

Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS

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, 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," he 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, Mr Albanese held bilateral talks with French President Emmanuel Macro, where the pair discussed the trade deal negotiations.

Mr Albanese brought up the deal during informal discussions with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

He also met informally with European Commission Ursula von der Leyen before the summit.

The prime minister said the talks with the EU had been positive.

"We won't sign up to an agreement for the sake of having an agreement," Mr 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."

Australia had indicated they were willing to walk away from the deal should the negotiations stall.

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.

The prime minister will be alongside European leaders during the second and final day of the G20 Summit, before departing for Australia.