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Farmers cast eye to virgin Latin American markets as trade talks begin

1 July 2017

A free trade deal with four Latin American nations stands to unlock almost untapped markets for Australian farmers, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) said today.

Speaking from Colombia this morning, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo announced the beginning of trade talks with the powerful Pacific Alliance trading bloc made up of Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru.

NFF President Fiona Simson welcomed the news and said until now Australian farmers were all but frozen out of trade with the Latin America countries.

“Australian beef faces tariffs of up to 80 per cent in the region. Dairy products attract tariffs of up to 45% and sugar more than 30%.

“It simply has not been economical for Australia to export large quantities of produce to the region.”

In 2016, Australian exports to Pacific Alliance nations totalled about $1.8 billion, accounting for only 0.2% of the region’s imports.

“Meanwhile, our competitors, including the United States, Canada and the European Union, have enjoyed preferential access as a result of FTAs forged with the four countries,” Ms Simson said.

Ms Simson congratulated Trade Minister Steve Ciobo on pursing the Pacific Alliance FTA as a matter of priority.

“The region represents immense opportunity for our farm exports. The Pacific Alliance accounts for 38 per cent of Latin America’s population and 57 per cent of its total imports.”

“Mexico alone has a population of 127 million people and a gross domestic product in excess of $1 trillion.”

“The NFF, on behalf of farmers across Australia, share Minister Ciobo’s vision to continue to grow Australian trade. Forging stronger ties with the Pacific Alliance bloc is another important step towards such growth.”

A Liverpool Plains beef, cotton and grain farmer, Ms Simson said Australian agriculture depended on preferential access to key export markets.

“Three quarters of what we produce is exported. We compete in an ultra-price-sensitive global market against nations that often have significantly lower costs of production and often subsidise their producers to boot.”

“Today’s news means, that, hopefully, in the not too distant future, our Latin American counterparts will be enjoying much more Aussie meat, dairy, sugar, grain, fruit and vegetables and fibre.”

“They’ve been missing out!”

Media Enquiries: Laureta Wallace

0408 448 250

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