Protecting our Agricultural Exports - NSW Nationals

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Growing our Agricultural Exports

Australian agriculture’s future continues to be bright thanks to the proactive work of the Federal Government who took the lead in renegotiating over 18 new free trade agreements and worth over $88 billion per quarter to our beef, dairy, wheat, rice, lamb, cotton, seafood, wine and industrial industries.

When the United States withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-12), Labor naysayers were quick to condemn Australian farmers and years’ worth of trade negotiations to the rubbish bin, gleefully declaring the TPP-12 – and the plethora of lowered or abolished tariffs it contained – “dead”. Their delight in the possibility of the policy failing would have seen Australian agriculture set back decades and cost Australian farmers tens of millions in lost opportunities.

Thanks to the relentless efforts of the Federal Government across multiple departments – including the Department of Agriculture which the Nationals have held since 2013 – the fundamentals of the TPP were renegotiated with 18 new countries to create the TPP-11, eliminating 98 per cent of all tariffs in a trade zone that is worth $13.7 trillion and accounts for more than a quarter of our trade. This figure is now set to grow under the new TPP-11 agreement.

Under the plan, Australia now has new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico, with greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. It has been hailed as a win for Australia by the National Farmers Federation, Minerals Council, Winemakers Federation, Export Council of Australia, Red Meat Advisory Council and the Australian Food and Grocery Council – just to name a few.

Significant wins for Australian agriculture include reductions on import tariffs on beef heading to Japan –worth $2 billion in 2015-16 and for Australian dairy with a total abolition of a range of tariffs on cheese products. This increases our trade reach by $100 million that was not included in previous trade deals. Trade quotas for wheat and rice have also been increased to Japan, with further increases in quotas for sugar into Canada, Mexico and Japan.

The TPP-12 retains the structure of the original TPP arrangements and remains an open platform, meaning non-member countries are able to join, leaving the door open to further free trade deals for Australian farmers. Crucially, no Intellectual Property laws have been changed in any way due to the trade agreement.

The 18 new free trade agreements will provide a whole generation of globally savvy Australian farmers with new markets, new investors and new opportunities that will see this country continue to be the agricultural powerhouse of Asia. It is also in stark contrast to the dismal efforts of Labor who signed only three free-trade agreements during the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era, a time which also nearly destroyed our trade relationship with Indonesia and the cattle markets of Northern Australia.

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