Beef and sugar exports optimistic about Trans Pacific deal

THE CLARENCE Valley's beef and sugar growers are cautiously optimistic about Australia signing up to a free trade agreement involving 12 countries around the Pacific perimeter.

The Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, which Australia signed up to this week, will free up trading arrangements with Pacific countries, five of which are Australia's leading trading partners.

The Member for Page, Kevin Hogan, said the government was determined to get the sugar industry into the agreement and had won some important concessions.

"From what I understand the export quota has been raised from 107,000 tonnes a year to 207,000 tonnes," he said.

"Importantly for local growers the discretionary quota, when there is a shortfall in export production, has been raised from 8% to 23%.

"In Australia Queensland sugar is grown for the export market and in NSW production is for the domestic market.

"This change in the discretionary quota is a definite improvement for the industry."

Clarence Cane Growers manager Pat Bathersby said the agreement could provide more certainty in the industry and an improvement in prices for crops.

"Locally we provide a product that's sought after and have contracts to provide that product," he said.

"The way the market has been has made it hard for us, with other countries subsidising the price so they can sell for less than the cost of production."

The TPP will also benefit the beef industry, which is going through an unprecedented period of prosperity.

"Anything that allows the growth of exports is a positive thing in my view," said local grazier Fred Morgan.

Mr Morgan said access to more markets was a positive thing, but cautioned against Australians becoming too optimistic.

"It's some good news, but it's not just good news for Australian growers," he said.

"Growers in other countries in the agreement also have access to the same markets."

Mr Hogan said the TPP allowed Australia to catch up on tariffs into member countries.

"Australia used to have a head start on most countries, but recently we have fallen behind some of them," he said.

"Brazil was one of those in beef production. The TPP will enable us to get in front of them again."

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