AUSTRALIA risks missing out on a surge in jobs and export opportunities if the Parliament delays approving the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), prompting three major industry groups to today launch a national campaign to inform the public on the benefits of the landmark deal.
The campaign by the National Farmers' Federation, the Minerals Council of Australia and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry explains how the deal will offer improved access to our largest trading partner, creating new jobs and economic opportunities across Australia.
The campaign urges the Federal Parliament to ratify the agreement before the end of the year, ensuring Australia benefits from more rapid tariff reductions.
The campaign will tell the stories of Australian businesses across the farming, small business and minerals and energy sectors that see enormous potential in the Chinese market but are burdened by restrictions on trade.
Australian exports to China already account for nearly 6 per cent of Australia's GDP, making it Australia's largest trading partner. Worth $100 billion dollars annually, Australian exports to China are more than the combined value of Australia’s exports to the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea, France, Canada and all of South East Asia.
The trade agreement will deepen and broaden this relationship with one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
Kate Carnell AO, CEO of the Australian Chamber, said it was disappointing some groups created community fears that the agreement would lead to unqualified overseas workers.
“Their scaremongering is damaging to Australia's interests and our relationship with China, a key trading partner,” she said. “Many Australian small businesses are exploring export opportunities and China has enormous potential as a destination, so it is vital we make it as easy as possible for them.”
Brent Finlay, the President of the National Farmers' Federation and a farmer from Stanthorpe, Queensland, said Australian farmers rely on trade and international markets to generate $42.4 billion for the Australian economy each year, with $9 billion in earnings from China alone.
“If the Parliament fails to ratify ChAFTA this year it will mean that farmers and the Australian community will miss out on two rounds of tariff cuts,” he said.
“This will damage the competitiveness and affordability of all Australian products in China, and set Australian agriculture back $300 million in 2016.”
Brendan Pearson, CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia, said the agreement will eliminate tariffs that add nearly $600 million in costs to the bilateral minerals and energy trade, including about $380 million for exporters of thermal and metallurgical coal.
“A decision to block the trade deal is unthinkable. An extended delay will simply advantage our competitors in the Chinese market. This includes Indonesia, whose thermal coal exports enter China tariff-free courtesy of an earlier FTA while Australian thermal coal exports face a 6 per cent tariff impost,” he said.
The campaign involves advertising across all major media platforms and other efforts to explain ChAFTA to the Australian community.