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Emerson applauded for cutting the bulldust & horse trading

10 December 2010

THE National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has thrown its weight behind a fresh push by Federal Trade Minister Dr Craig Emerson to “dispense with the bargaining-chip-approach” to trade deals, as outlined in his trade policy speech at the Lowy Institute in Sydney today.

“Farmers are impressed by the vigor Dr Emerson has brought to the Trade portfolio,” NFF President Jock Laurie said. “Today the Minister has signaled an end to the piecemeal, tit-for-tat trade reform approach that has bogged down progress for too long.

“By boiling off the waffle and reiterating the key point that “even if Australian businesses were the most competitive in the world as a consequence of domestic economic reform and their hard work and ingenuity, it would amount to nought if they are shut out of foreign country markets”, the Minister has hit the nail on the head for farmers, and our national economy, given agriculture is the most distorted sector of global trade.

“The Minister’s upfront preparedness to reject free trade agreements and other deals that do not provide direct benefits to Australia picks up on the NFF’s recent submission to the Productivity Commission on bilateral deals that we should only pursue high quality, comprehensive deals that result in tangible market access, not deals based on foreign affairs and so called ‘geo-political’ motives.

“The Minister is right to focus on bilateral trade agreements with Korea, Japan, China and Indonesia – markets that directly reflect NFF’s trade priorities. Today’s speech is refreshingly direct and a positive shake-up.

“Multilateral deals through the World Trade Organisation remain the NFF’s main game as it offers the best possible benefits in breaking down trade barriers. While the Doha Round has stalled, with the US mid-term elections now behind us there is the possibility of an increasing appetite to reignite the global trade agenda in 2011. It’s now or never for Doha.

“Opening markets, strengthening the international rules-based trading system, reducing subsidies and generally facilitating the free flow of food and fibre has been, and remains, one of the NFF’s highest priorities.

“To see the Federal Trade Minister make a strong, strategic statement as to Australia’s interests is very heartening. We will give him every support in pursuing this agenda.”

[ENDS]

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