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Australia to kick off trade talks with EU in July

Australia will kick off free trade discussions with the European Union in July in a bid to unlock the door to the bloc's US$17.3 trillion economy, the country's Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment said in a statement.

Australia, which lacks preferential access into the EU, is seeking to secure better access for its food and agriculture exports from its second-largest trading partner. The country also aims to provide opportunities for its service exporters, particularly in education, financial and professional services, as well as support its digital economy and high-technology startups.

The first round of talks is scheduled in Brussels from July 2 to July 6, the European Commission said. A deal with the EU would be one of Australia's biggest trade agreements, according to the Australian ministry.

The negotiations come after the U.S. approved 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods from China, escalating trade tensions between the two economies. The U.S. had also threatened to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from the EU, Canada and Mexico.