Australian Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, said the announcement of a free trade agreement between Australia and China was an historic step in advancing the opportunities for Australia’s agriculture, food, fisheries and forestry sectors.
“This agreement provides our agriculture sector with significant advantages over major competitors like the United States and the European Union who don’t have free trade agreements with China,” Minister Joyce said.
“It also closes the gap between Australia and those who do have agreements – like New Zealand, Chile and ASEAN.
“We currently export approximately $9 billion of agricultural products to China, at tariffs of up to 30%.
“This agreement will eliminate tariffs on many key products, mostly within four to eight years, including beef, sheep meat, hides and skins, livestock, dairy, wine, seafood, sorghum and barley. There are also notable improvements for horticulture. Tariffs will be eliminated on many products such as table grapes.
“The tariff reductions will increase our competitiveness in the market and increase returns to our producers at the farmgate across Australia.
“While I am disappointed that some key commodities were excluded, this agreement represents the best outcome we could achieve at this time. Importantly, the agreement has a built-in review process so that three years after it enters into force, Australia and China will discuss further market access.
“And it isn’t an endpoint – it’s a beginning of a new relationship with China and one which we will use to continue to press for improved market access for our producers and exporters.
“At the same time, we will have to work hard to capitalise on those opportunities from the FTA’s with China, Japan and Korea – and that is exactly what the government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is about, strengthening Australia’s productive capacity and competitiveness to supply Asian and other international markets.”
Posted 18 November 2014