GrainGrowers supported the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) at a public hearing in Melbourne this week. The national grain farmer representative organisation appeared on behalf of its 17,000 members before the Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade References Committee inquiry into the TPP-11 on Monday. Trade and Economics Manager Luke Mathews said GrainGrowers sought to drive the development and implementation of positive trade and market access for the industry and its customers.
“Trade is vital for the Australian grains industry and regional communities,” Mr Mathews said.
“Maintaining a strong free trade agenda, one which focusses on addressing tariff, quota and non-tariff barriers to trade, is imperative,” he said.
“Bilateral and regional preferential trade agreements such as the TPP-11 are very important in improving export opportunities for the Australian grain sector.”
The average value of Australian grain exports to TPP-11 members is A$1.6 billion, contributing some 15-20 per cent of all Australian grains exports. Several TPP-11 countries are individually critically important for the Australian grains industry, including Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia.
“GrainGrowers strongly believes that new trade agreements, such as the TPP-11, must be commercially meaningful and deliver real benefits to Australian farmers. They must complement and build on agreements that preceded them,” Mr Mathews said.
“GrainGrowers believes the TPP-11 achieves these objectives by eliminating more than 98 per cent of all tariffs in the free trade area.
“For the grains industry, the largest benefits from TPP-11 are improved market access into the important Japanese wheat, barley and canola market, and improved provisions for dealing with non-tariff barriers to trade across member countries.”
In 2016/2017, Australian grains exports to Japan were valued at more than $750 million, led by barley, $325M, wheat, $304M, and canola, $84M.
“Australian grain farmers grow about 49 million tonnes of grains, oilseeds and pulses each year, which at the farm gate alone is worth $14.6 billion. This production generates more than 170,000 jobs across rural, regional and metropolitan Australia,” Mr Mathews said.
“More than 70 per cent of this grain production is sold offshore, generating $12.2 billion each year, and accounting for more than a quarter of all Australian agricultural export earnings.
“It is vitally important that free trade and market access remains a key focus of our government.
“We encourage the Australian Parliament to ratify the TPP-11 agreement as quickly as possible so that the benefits of freer trade flow to Australian grain farmers.”
The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee is expected to report by 18 September 2018.
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