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Added strength to trade: step closer to agreement

20 June 2012

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed this week’s announcements that Canada and Mexico have both joined the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Adding the weight of Canada and Mexico to the collective TPP is positive news for the Australian farming sector and a step forward on international trade issues,” NFF President Jock Laurie said today.

“As Minister Emerson has pointed out, the TPP has the potential to form a basis for free trade across our region, and will contribute to Australia’s efforts in achieving global trade liberalisation.

“It’s a good news story in an area, that for too long, has had very little positive to say. A month ago we saw the Australia-Malaysia free trade agreement finalised – the next focus must be on ensuring the commitment to finalising the TPP by the end of this year is upheld,” Mr Laurie said.

Mr Laurie, who is also chair of the NFF Trade Committee, said farmers remain understandably jaded when it comes to the issue of international trade.

“There’s no doubt that the stalemate on the WTO’s Doha round of international trade talks have left Australian farmers, and indeed farmers across much of the world, feeling immensely frustrated when it comes to trade,” Mr Laurie said.

“There has been so little movement in this area for so long; despite enormous work taking place behind the scenes to shore up Australia’s position and to lobby for open, free markets and the removal of protectionist measures.

“Given that 60 percent of our Australian agricultural produce is exported, achieving new export market opportunities and reducing trade distortions within global markets is the NFF's top trade priority. We firmly believe we must pursue nothing less than full and open access for all Australian agricultural products in our trade negotiations.

“And, just a day after hearing the Government’s announcement that the value of Australian agricultural exports is to remain high - with predictions showing commodity exports should equal $34.4 billion in 2012-13 - now is the time to talk trade.

“Anything that brings us closer to realising our goal of open and free market access is a welcome step in the right direction. As such, we welcome Canada and Mexico to the TPP table,” Mr Laurie said.

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