Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie said regional Victoria could potentially benefit further from a trade deal with India, following discussions between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Canberra today.
It follows the good outcome for Victorian farmers in Australia’s free trade agreement with China (ChAFTA). Senator McKenzie today during Question Time sought more detail on the benefits to Australian agriculture.
“In representing the Minister for Trade, Senator Eric Abetz told the senate that Victoria, being Australia’s largest food and fibre exporting state, is particularly well placed to reap the benefits of the ChAFTA,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Given China is Australia’s most important agriculture market, with exports currently worth around $9 billion and growing, the senate heard opportunities for farmers in Victoria and other states are massive.
“The agreement also addresses the current trade disadvantage experienced, for example, by the dairy, lamb and wine industries with countries who have FTAs with China. These are important industries in Victoria, as well as horticulture, all of which will benefit from the elimination of tariffs.”
The ChAFTA has been welcomed by farmers and industry.
Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) Chair, Noel Campbell said: “The FTA in the long-term will allow the Australian dairy industry to flourish and capitalise upon robust demand in the Chinese market. It will strengthen Australian dairy’s competitiveness by providing the Australian dairy industry with a significant advantage compared to other countries in the market that do not have a FTA with China.” He added the FTA also “puts the industry on a more level playing field against key competitors in the Chinese market, such as New Zealand.” (statement)
Victorian Farmers Federation President Peter Tuohey said: “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.” (statement)
United Dairyfarmers of Victoria President Tyran Jones, adds: “This provides the processors with unprecedented opportunities to market our dairy products in the highly competitive Chinese market. It would be reasonable to expect that increased world demand for our dairy products should be reflected in increased farm gate prices.” (statement)
Swan Hill Summer Fruits Development Association president Michael Tripodi said the agreement was an excellent result for stone fruit. “It will make the Chinese market more accessible for more growers.” (Weekly Times)
Ausveg spokesperson Andrew McDonald said: “This agreement will cement China as a key destination for Australian vegetable exports, and it is hoped that this will benefit regional communities across the country by creating jobs and boosting economies.” (Weekly Times)
Winemakers say the free trade agreement will address issues of oversupply and high exchange rates. De Bortoli Wines chief winemaker in the Yarra Valley, Steve Webber, said: “China is a really exciting market. We’re all interested in seeing what will happen.” De Bortoli export director, Victor De Bortoli, adds the trade agreement will make Australia a bigger player on the international wine scene. “This is fantastic news for the Australian wine industry. We’ve already got a fantastic reputation in China for our premium wines, and this will allow us to compete with other major wine exporters.” (Herald Sun)
Senator McKenzie commended the Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, for delivering the best possible outcome for farmers and industry.
“Minister Robb, and industry leaders, successfully lobbied for and achieved a powerful trifecta of agreements with our major trading partners in North Asia – Japan, Korea and now China. These economies alone already account for more than 60 per cent of our exports of goods,” she said.
“Australia is now turning its attention to the Indo-Pacific and will negotiate a trade deal with India over the next 12 months. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi confirmed today that there are huge opportunities for a trade partnership in many areas including agriculture, agro-processing, resources, energy, finance, infrastructure, education and science and technology.
“Minister Robb also confirmed trade talks are underway with Indonesia and the Gulf States. At the request of Minister Robb, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, of which I am a member, is holding an inquiry to investigate issues and demand surrounding trade in the Middle East, which saw nearly $15 billion in trade between our two regions last year.
“The Victorian Coalition Government has also been committed to pursuing trade opportunities through its Trade Mission Program which has similarly focused on the high growth markets of China, India, South East Asia and the Middle East.
“If elected, the Victorian Coalition will also deploy food and beverage trade specialists to the Middle East, Japan and Thailand, to help find new export markets for food and fibre producers. They’ll be in addition to the trade specialists based in China, Malaysia and Indonesia.
“This will further strengthen Australia’s and Victoria’s economies, resulting in more jobs and prosperity.”