National Farmers' Federation

China FTA – Promises Made, Promises Kept

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President Brent Finlay has today reiterated the importance of ratifying the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), so that benefits for both nations can begin to be realised from 2016.
“ChAFTA is a game-changer for Australian agriculture: providing unprecedented access to the world’s second largest economy and underpinning the competitiveness of many of our key agricultural exports,” Mr Finlay said.
“Signing ChAFTA came at a critical time for industry, on the back of surging global demand for safe, high-quality food and fibre. However, in order for farmers to seize the opportunities the deal must be formally ratified by Parliament this year.
“Politicking over this generational deal for Australian agriculture has to be called out for what it is. Those currently seeking to place a handbrake on market access are not just doing the wrong thing by Australian farmers – they are jeopardising our reputation as an open trading nation and actively undermining Australian jobs.
“Delaying the agreement could cost the agricultural export trade up to $300 million in 2016 alone, with untold flow-on effects to rural and regional communities across Australia.”
The sector estimates that failure to ratify the agreement this year would come at enormous opportunity costs, including:
• $100 million for the Australian red meat industry;
• up to $60 million for the dairy industry;
• up to $50 million for the wine industry; and
• more than $43 million in annual tariff reductions for the grains industry.
“Current tariffs imposed on Australia’s red meat exports to China are a tax on Australia’s supply chain of $826 million each year. ChAFTA will change that, so that over time the tariffs will disappear completely,” Mr Finlay said.
“Tariff elimination, alongside improved technical access, will make Australian farmers more competitive in the global marketplace, cementing our nation as a leading source of food and fibre internationally.”
The NFF has also raised serious concerns over recent suggestions that the agreement should be revisited.
“Attempts to reopen negotiations at this late stage put the whole deal at risk. This agreement has been ten years in the making. Australian farmers expect promises made to be promises kept; any delay would be a significant setback for regions working hard to drive job creation and economic growth,” Mr Finlay said.
The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) will hold hearings across Australia over the coming weeks to examine the positive and negative aspects of ChAFTA.
“We urge all sides of the political spectrum to put Australia first when it comes to trade. With the economic benefits that flow, we can create lasting opportunity for all Australians,” Mr Finlay said.

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