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Farmers welcome Australia-Korea free trade agreement
5 December 2013
The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that Australia is set to sign the free trade agreement with Korea – providing millions of dollars in export value to Australian farmers, including those in the red meat, grains, dairy, sugar, pork and horticulture sectors.
NFF President Brent Finlay said the deal recognises agriculture as one of the nation’s export strengths and will open opportunities for the sector in Korea.
“While the deal doesn’t deliver everything the Australian agricultural sector had advocated for, it is a strong step towards securing Australia’s important trading future with Korea and in improving international market access for Australian agricultural goods,” Mr Finlay said, speaking from Indonesia where he has been chairing the Cairns Group Farm Leaders trade discussions.
“The NFF is heavily involved in all of Australia’s trade negotiations regarding agriculture, so we understand how complex and challenging it is to secure agreement.
“After four years of intense negotiations, we are pleased that the Korean and Australian Governments have reached an agreement. This is major step forward in securing Australia’s trade within the Asian region, and we thank the Minister for Trade, Andrew Robb, for brokering the deal.
“Korea is Asia’s fourth largest economy and Australia’s third largest export market, with a $30 billion AUD two way trade underway. Minister Robb has predicted that Australian exports to Korea will lift by 73 percent by 2030, making it a critically important trade deal and building on the existing trading arrangement.
“Given protectionist sentiment around agricultural goods is rife in many overseas countries, it is pleasing that Australia has managed to forge an agreement with Korea that has dealt with some sensitive agricultural issues.
“In saying that, while it is a major step forward in reducing tariffs for many agricultural products down to zero, the deal does not deliver this outcomes for all agricultural industries, most notably rice.
“We have long advocated for trade agreements to be all-inclusive, factoring in all of our important agricultural commodities and this deal goes a long way towards this outcome. That said, we urge the Government to continue their good work by building on gains made on the Korean deal in other negotiations.
“And there are plenty of opportunities ahead for the Government to do so, with the China, Japan and Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations underway.
“These are all markets with enormous growth opportunities and where significant barriers to trade in agriculture still exist. Achieving strong outcomes for the Australian agricultural sector will be crucial,” Mr Finlay said.
Mr Finlay will tomorrow travel to Singapore, where he will lead a delegation of Australian commodity representatives for the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.
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