National grain farmers’ representative body, GrainGrowers, today welcomed the release of the Productivity Commission’s Research Paper on rising global protectionism which assesses the implications of the United States’ increasingly nationalist trade policies.
GrainGrowers has called on the Federal Government to continue to strongly pursue more liberalised trade in light of the substantial costs of protectionism on the Australian economy which were highlighted in the paper by the agency.
GrainGrowers’ Trade and Economics Manager, Luke Mathews, said it was important that the Productivity Commission showed the United States itself would not fare better through its policy of protectionism.
Mr Mathews highlighted the importance of recognizing the benefits of existing Free Trade Agreements and the need to continue to work on improving market access with like-minded countries.
“Current efforts to pursue free trade agreements with Indonesia, India, Pacific Alliance and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership across 16 Asian countries are positive steps forward which should be widely supported by the agricultural sector and broader trade community,” Mr Mathews said.
“Access to strong, open and fair international markets is critical for both the current and future success of the Australian grain industry, the Australian agriculture sector and the Australian economy more broadly,” said Mr Mathews.
“About 60 per cent of all grain grown in Australia is sold offshore, generating export returns of $11.8 billion per year. The industry’s largest production crop, wheat, is also the most highly export dependent. Typically, 75 per cent of Australian wheat production is exported, valued at $6.0 billion per year*,” said Mr Mathews.
Mr Mathews said that GrainGrowers’ goal was to see open and fair market access for Australian grains.
“GrainGrowers strongly supports efforts to liberalise global grain trade through the World Trade Organisation and the use of bilateral and plurilateral Free Trade Agreements. Trade agreements and management of technical aspects to trade are critical to the security of market access in the future.
“In addition, we work with industry stakeholders to enhance export opportunities for Australia’s quality grains in key markets and improve business relationships with major customers via key industry and government forums,” he said.
“Free trade must remain high on Australia’s agenda.
“It is great to see that the Productivity Commission’s work supports this stance and has rejected protectionism as a trading strategy in the paper released today.”
The Productivity Commission’s research report, Rising protectionism: challenges, threats and opportunities for Australia is available here: http://www.pc.gov.au/research/completed/rising-protectionism
*Based on five year average to 2015/16
P: 0408 014 843