National Farmers’ Federation President, Fiona Simson has praised the Federal Government’s focus on the interests of farmers as official negotiations towards a free trade agreement between the United Kingdom and Australia begin.
In an address today, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said securing benefits for Australian agriculture, was a top priority when negotiations between the two countries officially get underway on 29 June.
As a collective, Australian farmers export about two thirds of what they produce and NFF President, Fiona Simson said expanded export markets was key to agriculture’s continued growth.
“The UK-Australia FTA represents an opportunity to build on what are already strong trade ties in the region,” Ms Simson said.
“Until the formation of the European Union in 1973, the United Kingdom was a primary export market for our agricultural exports. And, afterwards as members of the European Union, UK consumers have enjoyed access to high-quality Australian food, beverages and fibre.
“We look forward to our two governments arriving at an agreement which will allow UK consumers to continue enjoying the Australian produce they have come to know and love.”
Of critical importance to Australian farmers is the removal wherever possible, of tariffs, quotas and non-tariff barriers.
“The removal of these barriers are necessary to ensure Australian farmers can engage in fair and healthy competition with their UK counterparts.”
Ms Simson said the shared history of the two nations meant the values held within the respective communities were also shared.
“We know that what’s important to Australians in terms of how our food and fibre is produced, is also important to the people of the United Kingdom.
“Our standards in relation to animal welfare, food safety, labour and the environment are exemplary, and are tailor-made to suit the unique circumstances of Australian agriculture.
“Australia’s regulatory systems are world-class. We are firmly committed to ensuring these standards are not compromised.”
Ms Simson said continuing to expand and diversify Australia’s trading profile was crucial to agriculture’s pursuit to supercharge the nation’s COVID-19 economic recovery.
“The farm sector and regional Australia are well placed to accelerate a return to the economic prosperity Australians have become accustomed to.
“The NFF has a goal for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030, up from about $60 billion today.
“Exploring new markets and reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers is at the heart of agriculture reaching its potential.”
Ms Simson said the NFF was optimistic that negotiations could be concluded promptly so the benefits for both countries could be realised in these universally tough economic times.
“We look forward to working with Minister Birmingham and the Federal Government over the coming months to assist to ensure the priorities of the Australian agriculture are front and centre in the negotiations.
“We also look forward to engaging with the UK’s agricultural sector with whom we already have a strong friendship.”
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