National Farmers' Federation

Farmers call for agriculture to be at the heart of EU-Australia bi-lateral

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed the official start of negotiations towards a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU), as announced by the Trade Minister, Hon Steve Ciobo MP today.
NFF President Fiona Simson congratulated Minister Ciobo and the Government and urged the Minister to ensure agriculture was at the heart of a bilateral with the trading bloc.
“Enhanced trading conditions with the EU represent a significant opportunity for Australian farmers,” Ms Simson said.
“A comprehensive and high-quality agreement could substantially improve market access for Australian agricultural products such as red meat (beef, sheepmeat and goatmeat), dairy; horticulture; grains and oilseeds; sugar; cotton; rice and wool.”
Ms Simson, who led a delegation of farm sector representatives on a trade mission to the region in January, said a bi-lateral trade agreement with the the EU would be another ‘string in the bow’ of Australian farmer’s marketing options.
“The EU is a niche, premium market for Australian agriculture.
“Our high quality agricultural products are ideally suited to cater for the European consumer, a consumer who is particularly concerned about food and fibre provenance, food safety, animal health and environmental sustainability.”
The negotiations also signal an opportunity explore greater collaboration and investment that would benefit the agricultural pursuits of both Europe and Australia.
Ms Simson said statistics from Australian Bureau of Agriculture, Resource Economics and Science (ABARES) showed that trade in agricultural goods with the EU was underdeveloped.
“In 2016-2017 Australia exported about $3.8 billion worth of produce to the EU, while we imported agricultural goods worth more than $4.7 billion.
“This is a significant deviation from Australia’s usual agricultural trade pattern, with Australia being a net food exporter with all other major markets. We have an opportunity now to increase our exports to the EU.”
Ms Simson said continued improved market access with a variety of trading partners was crucial to Australian farmers.
“Australia exports about 75% of its agricultural produce and our farmers are amongst the least subsidised in the world.
“The liberalisation of trade and securing preferential market access is therefore a priority for the NFF.”
Ms Simson said Australian farmers were already benefiting from preferential market access achieved through recent FTAs with China, Japan and Korea.
“We’re also hopeful that the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP 11) will soon be ratified and begin to deliver benefits to farmers.
“Trade is good for our farmers, our regional communities and the national economy as a whole,” Ms Simson said.

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