FTA deal mostly a win

NUT, fruit and vegetable growers in the Bundaberg region will be the big winners of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed with China this week, while canegrowers have been left out in the cold.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the agreement builds on positive outcomes already being experienced from Australia's recent FTAs with Korea and Japan, with horticulture exports already increasing compared to a year ago.

"Similarly, the agreement with China is expected to provide a catalyst for future growth across a variety of areas including goods, services and investment," Mr Pitt said.

Signed in Canberra this week by the Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb, the landmark China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) will improve market access to the world's second largest economy for Hinkler businesses - large and small.

"Under ChAFTA, 95% of Australian goods exports will be tariff free. This includes the abolition of tariffs on our clean, green, premium agricultural products, as well as on a range of Australian manufactured goods such as pharmaceutical products, car engines, plastic products and processed food," Mr Pitt said.

He said the biggest winners locally would be Hinkler's farming, seafood and manufacturing businesses, opening up opportunities for expansion.

"China is Australia's largest agriculture and fisheries export market, worth $9 billion in 2013-14, up from $5 billion in 2010-11," he said.

"China's demand for high-quality agriculture and food products is growing rapidly. The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) predicts that China will account for 43 per cent of global growth in agricultural demand by 2050.

Although the FTA brings good news for most industries, it seems the sugar industry has been left out of the deal which comes to no surprise for director and deputy of Canegrowers Bundaberg Tony Castro.

"I think it would be fair to say that growers are numb about the outcome of this current FTA with China," he said.

"It's become apparent that our government trade minister and his negotiators give in very easily when these countries say that sugar has to be excluded out of any FTA."

"All primary producers are entitled to benefit from the benefits that flow from these Free Trade Agreements and not just a select few. The omission of sugar has denied growers more surety in their income and as a result continue to be at the mercy of a volatile world market which means growers could receive less money than the costs of production."



Tariffs removed

  • 10-25% on nuts
  • 11-30% on citrus fruits
  • 10-30% on other fruit
  • 10-13% on fresh vegetables
  • Up to 8% on prawns

*within 4 years

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