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China FTA: less politics, more goal kicks

8 September 2015

Political point scoring on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is distracting us from making real improvements to our economic prosperity, says the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).

Last week’s Australian Bureau of Statistics results revealed that falling commodity prices and decreased business investment led to Australia’s slowest quarterly growth rate in more than two years, with GDP growing at just 0.2%, compared with 0.9% in the previous quarter.

Australia’s economic results are a strong reminder that Australia can no longer tread water. We must champion new areas of growth and open up new markets for innovative Australian businesses.

Enacting the China FTA will help stimulate a new wave of economic growth. It can be the launch pad for small and large business, providing unprecedented entry to the world’s second largest marketplace, with access to over 1.3 billion consumers.

From an agriculture perspective, we only need to look at our New Zealand neighbours to see the huge benefits of preferential market access. Under their free trade agreement with China, New Zealand exports have experienced exponential growth, tripling in value since 2008.

If Australian agriculture is allowed the same opportunity, we could be looking at $25 billion in trade by 2020 to China alone. And this means more job opportunities for Australians and more money in the pockets of working Australian families.

But we need Australian politicians to release the shackles and offer their bipartisan support to the enabling legislation. Doing this will remove over 85 percent of the taxes and duties imposed on Australian goods this year, rising to 93 percent after four years and 95 percent when it is fully implemented.

The China FTA is an opportunity to supercharge Australian industry at a time when growth is desperately needed. All parties need to end the uncertainty and commit to support the agreement. Denying Australian exporters a double tariff cut for the sake of playing politics would be an unforgivably reckless move we can’t afford.

- National Farmers’ Federation, Chief Executive Officer, Simon Talbot.

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