Food growers set to reap bonanza with new trade agreement

BUNDABERG’S food growers are set to reap a bonanza with the announcement Australia is set to sign a free trade agreement with South Korea.
BUNDABERG’S food growers are set to reap a bonanza with the announcement Australia is set to sign a free trade agreement with South Korea. Lee Constable

BUNDABERG'S food growers are set to reap a bonanza with the announcement Australia is set to sign a free trade agreement with South Korea.

Sugar, fruit and vegetable and macadamia growers are all set to benefit from the agreement.

The Australian Sugar Industry Alliance said the agreement would ensure the one million tonne per year raw sugar trade to South Korea, valued at $500 million, would continue.

Alliance chairman John Pratt said South Korea was the largest export market for Australia's raw sugar, making the announcement an important one for Australia's sugarcane industry.

"All eyes will now be on world trade negotiations to include full access for sugar, as the Australian-Korea agreement ... paves the way for important trade reform," he said.

Trade reform talks continue this week in Singapore as the Trans Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade agreement involving 12 nations, nears completion. Mr Pratt said the Australian sugar industry was working at full speed to counter calls by some countries for sugar to be excluded from the TPP.

The Australian Macadamia Society also welcomed the news of the agreement.

A spokeswoman said the agreement meant tariffs on the nuts would drop from 30% to zero in five years.

This would enable the macadamia industry to make a big push into the South Korean market.

The Australian vegetable and potato industry also welcomed the announcement of the free trade agreement, which would see the elimination of tariffs on potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and a host of other horticultural products.

Ausveg spokesman Hugh Gurney said the free trade agreement was a win for Australia's 2000 potato growers, who would now be able to access a developing market without the restrictions of tariffs.

"Potatoes will see an immediate elimination of tariffs into Korea, which means that growers will be able to reap the benefits of the new agreement in the early months of 2014," he said.

In 2012-13, $7.4 million of vegetables, including $6.3million of potatoes, were exported to Korea.

Mr Gurney said the value of exports to South Korea had the potential to increase dramatically.

"The establishment of a free trade agreement with Korea is a momentous outcome for the Australian horticulture industry and will create new opportunities for Australian growers to supply first-class produce to Korea's citizens," he said.

Joining vegetables now eligible for trade with South Korea were cherries, dried grapes, fruit and vegetable juice and apricots, mangoes,. peaches and plums.

Topics:  business fair trade

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