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Re-emergence of protectionism hinders economic recovery

25 May 2009

AS THE world stumbles further towards protectionism – the United States’ (US) announcement of dairy subsidies the latest misstep – the issues affecting Australia’s ability to trade agricultural commodities on the world stage will be high on the agenda at the ‘Innovation Generation Conference’ being held in Tamworth over 7-9 July 2009.

“The US announcement at the weekend that it will follow the European Union’s (EU’s) misguided re-introduction of subsidies for dairy producers only compounds the garbled signals affecting world markets and derails legitimate attempts to correct the global economic recession,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie said.

“With world economies in freefall and the international food crisis ever-present, leading the charge on trade reform to open up markets should be political leaders’ focus. The Doha Round of trade reform has repeatedly broken down due to a lack of political courage on the part of key players.

“Instead of breaking down artificial trade barriers such as tariffs, subsidies and quotas to jump-start economies the world over – including the floundering US economy – and give new impetus to global markets, the US is regressing into imaginary harbours that give it no protection at all.

“The problem with so-called ‘protectionism’ is while it may shore-up a few domestic jobs in the short-term, it only reinforces the inherent distortions that plague international trade. Rather than help the US economy to rebound, it entrenches the inefficient allocation of resources that economies can ill-afford – now or for a longer-term recovery.

“Rather than drag delinquent nations back to the World Trade Organisation to wrap up Doha and eliminate trade distorting barriers once-and-for-all, the US is now joining their ranks.

“Here at home, in light of the worldwide economic downturn and the ongoing debate surrounding food security, it is vital that the next generation of farm leaders have a solid understanding of how global trade assists Australian agriculture.

“Exporting some 65% of everything we produce on Australian farms, breaking down barriers and gaining greater access to world markets is essential. Without it, there is no opportunity for growth. That will be my message to farmers and agribusiness leaders in Tamworth.”

Mr Crombie will be joined by Austrade’s National Agribusiness Manager Robert Sutton who will also address delegates during the trade session.

Hosted by Grain Growers Association (GGA), Innovation Generation will bring together young grain growers, mixed producers and agribusiness professionals aged 18-35 to Tamworth over the three days from July 7-9.

Registrations are now open for the Innovation Generation Conference over 7–9 July 2009. Cost of $395 (inc. GST) covers 4 nights’ accommodation, conference, meals and social activities. Visit www.graingrowers.com.au or call GGA on 1800 620 519 for more information. Registrations close Friday 5 June 2009.

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

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