VICTORIAN farmers are urging the Federal Parliament to ratify the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) as soon as possible.
Victorian Farmers Federation President Peter Tuohey said Australia’s FTA with China would set the foundations for a Century of growth and prosperity for both nations.
“The FTA allows us to build on our nation’s $38 billion in annual food and fibre exports, by delivering safe, high quality food to China’s 1.3 billion consumers,” Mr Tuohey said.
But any attempts to delay ratification of the FTA would put agricultural exports and jobs at a serious risk.
Delaying the agreement could cost the agricultural export trade up to $300 million in 2016 alone, with untold flow-on effects is loss of jobs and future income to rural and regional communities across Australia.
Mr Tuohey said the scare campaign instigated by the Union movement was reckless and jeopardised the future prosperity of Australian agriculture.
“This is an opportunity to grow Australian jobs, businesses and of course our farming economy. Let’s focus on the facts here and not unionised misconceptions and hype,” Mr Tuohey said.
VFF’s dairy arm – the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria – has been at the forefront of the push to get an effective FTA across the line.
United Dairyfarmers of Victoria President Adam Jenkins said the dairy industry needs ChAFTA signed by the end of 2015 so the benefits of the deal could flow through to dairy farmers quickly.
“The dairy industry congratulates the Federal Government for signing a deal in November last year which will deliver savings in tariffs and renewed confidence in our industry,” Mr Jenkins said.
“It is a deal which is important to our export-oriented industry as it strengthens our place in the international market. By gaining access to the largest dairy importer, ChAFTA allows us to remain competitive with major exporters such as NZ, Europe and USA.”
Mr Jenkins said ratifying ChAFTA is vital to the Victorian dairy industry.
“It is particularly important to Victorian dairy farmers as over 90 per cent of China’s Australian dairy imports are sourced from Victoria,” Mr Jenkins said.
“The Victorian processing sector has committed over $1 billion to upgrade processing capacity and this deal will help us realise our potential; to provide more safe, nutritious and healthy products to our biggest market,” Mr Jenkins said.
Under the new FTA, the infant formula tariff will be wound down to zero in four years, while tariffs on milk powders will wind down to zero within 9 to 11 years.
“With a long record of innovation and adaption to changing conditions and markets, Victorian farmers are in a strong position to meet the particular demands of boosting exports to China.
“It is imperative the FTA is ratified as soon as possible, as failure to secure the deal this year could cost the Australian dairy industry up to $60 million in tariffs,” Mr Jenkins said.
Import tariffs into China Australia – Current Under the Australia – China FTA
Dairy (Milk Powders) – 10%, phased out over 11 years
Infant formula – 15%, phased out over 4 years
Beef – 12% to 25%, phased out over 9 years
Sheep Meat – 12% to 23%, phased out over 8 years
Most Fruit & Vegetables – 10-30%, most phased out over four years
Citrus – 11-30%, phased out within 8 years
Wine – 14-20%, phased out over 4 years
Adam Jenkins, UDV President 0437 008 806
Peter Tuohey VFF President 0428 952 425
Tom Whitty, VFF Media Manager 0417 165 784