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Korea-Australia FTA: Let's seal the deal

4 September 2014

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today welcomed the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) recommendation that Australia ratify the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement (KAFTA) – an agreement that could deliver millions of dollars in additional export value to the Australian economy.

NFF President Brent Finlay said the deal recognises agriculture as one of the nation’s export strongholds and must be ratified as soon as possible to open up markets for Australian farmers, including those in the red meat, grains, dairy, sugar, pork and horticulture industries.

“The NFF is involved in all of Australia’s trade negotiations regarding agriculture, so we understand how complex and challenging it is to secure an agreement in the first place. Any suggestions that it be delayed are clearly not in the interests of Australian farmers,” said Mr Finlay.

“After four years of intense negotiations, we were pleased that the Korean and Australian Governments reached an agreement in December 2013. This was a major step forward in securing Australia’s trade within the Asian region.

“The challenge now is moving from words to action. With the European Union and the United States hot on our heels, ratification of the agreement will ensure Australian agriculture cements its competitive advantage in Asian markets.

“Ratifying the agreement before the end of the year, will mean that Australian agriculture, particularly the dairy and red meat sectors, can take advantage of the tariff reduction timeline as of 1 January 2015.

Key benefits of the KAFTA for Australian farmers include:

• Elimination of Korea’s 40 per cent tariff on beef and 18 per cent tariff on bovine offal progressively over 15 years.
• Elimination of Korea’s 3 per cent tariff on raw sugar from commencement.
• Elimination of Korea’s high tariffs of 36 per cent on cheese and 89 per cent on butter, over 13 and 20 years respectively – this is an addition to growing duty free quotas for cheese, butter and infant formula.
• Elimination of Korea’s 22.5 per cent tariff on sheep and goat meat over 10 years. Tariffs on key pork exports of 22.5 to 25 per cent will be eliminated in five to 15 years.

“It’s vital that Australia acts quickly to seize the opportunity for early implementation of this agreement. We must get the ball rolling – every day of unnecessary delay holds Australia’s growth and prosperity back,” said Mr Finlay.

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