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Chile FTA breaks the seal on Latin America

27 May 2008

THE Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Australia and Chile – announced today by Trade Minister The Hon Simon Crean MP – is comprehensive, covering all agricultural products including Chile’s most sensitive commodity, sugar.

“It’s a landmark deal,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie said. “It establishes Australia’s first FTA with a country in Latin America, which can only further strengthen our links with the continent and give us a ‘leg up’ in trading further in the region.

“In many ways it’s a ‘model’ FTA, covering all goods, even Chile’s sugar sector, and ensures meaningful benefits will flow to Australian agricultural exporters, along with the potential for future expansion into nearby countries.

“With the high Aussie dollar slashing $4 billion off the value of Australian agricultural exports since August 2007, it is imperative that we open new markets for Australian produce around the world. Chile is particularly important for our red meat, dairy and wine exports, but all sectors stand to benefit.

“It also underscores the need for free trade across the globe, with prevailing subsidies, tariffs and other trade distorting barriers exacerbating the world food crisis – taking its toll on poorer countries and fuelling food inflation here in Australia.

“While the NFF remains committed to a multilateral trading system through the World Trade Organization as the best way to achieve genuine, widespread and all encompassing trade reform, the Rudd Government’s commitment to bilateral FTA’s is prudent.

“Bilateral arrangements can reinforce the multilateral trading environment, as the Chile deal does. And, in practical terms, we have to recognise that with the United States in ‘presidential election mode’, it is extremely unlikely American politicians will have the stomach to push the trade reform barrow, as the passage of the US Farm Bill demonstrated.

“The Australia-Chile agreement will further strengthen the already strong relationship between our two countries and our two farm communities. We are long time friends in pursuing global trade reform through the Cairns Group and Cairns Group Farm Leaders forums.”

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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