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Farm sector pushing for major gains from trade talks

27 August 2013

President of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), Duncan Fraser, is in South East Asia this week, leading a delegation of Australian agricultural representatives from the dairy, red meat, pork, sugar, grains and rice sectors, to the 19th round of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Speaking from Brunei, Mr Fraser today said that as the trade talks progress, it is critically important that the views of the Australian farm sector are clear to all participating countries and stakeholders.

“Agriculture needs to be at the heart of the TPP agreement and will be one of the sectors that can deliver commercially meaningful trade gains,” Mr Fraser said.

“As a collective, the Australian farm sector seeks a timely and comprehensive conclusion to the TPP negotiations - the outcome of which must be a level playing field.

“We believe the TPP agreement must cover all aspects of trade and investment, including agricultural products. Critically, we will not support an agreement that does not provide improved commercial arrangements for Australian farmers,” Mr Fraser said.

“A comprehensive outcome for Australian agriculture from the TPP will deliver a range of flow-on benefits for farmers, the wider food and fibre supply chain and the Australian economy, via increased demand, profitability, investment and employment. The benefits of a truly liberalising agreement could exceed $1 billion in the first year, and rise in subsequent years.

“But to achieve this, tariffs and other market access barriers must be phased out by the end of the negotiated transition period. Allowing any access restrictions to be maintained by one member of the TPP countries would lead to demands for similar treatment by other members – leading to a second class trade agreement at best.

“We stand firm on our position that there must be no product or sector exclusions – including agriculture – as exclusions would limit opportunities for all member countries to reach new markets, grow businesses and generate economic growth and jobs,” Mr Fraser said.

The NFF’s push for commercial gains for agriculture from the TPP comes as the NFF continues to call on all political parties to commit to reducing trade barriers in the looming federal election.

This follows a range of Government and NFF initiatives – the National Food Plan, the Asian Century White Paper, and the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture – all of which identify increasing agricultural exports to Asia as a key priority.

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