National Farmers' Federation

Government calls time on India's sugar subsidies

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed Government intervention to formally protest India’s unfair domestic subsidies and their impact on Australia’s sugarcane growers.
“We applaud a decision by the Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and his cabinet colleagues, to issue a Counter-Notification Notice with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and call-out India’s huge domestic subsidies programme,” NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said.
“For too long the Indian Government has been subsidising their nation’s sugar growers, to a level over and above that permitted by global trading rules agreed to by members of the WTO.
“The result has been a significant downturn in world sugar prices and a compromising of the sustainability of Australian sugarcane growers and our sugar industry as a whole.”
“Today, the Government has sent a clear message – enough is enough, we won’t stand by and continue to see markets distorted.”
Mr Mahar said 80 per cent of Australian sugar was exported and Australian farmers were amongst the least subsidised in the world.
“Sugarcane producers therefore rely on liberalised, fair, rules-based trade to achieve the returns they need to be profitable and sustainable.
“By taking the serious step of issuing a Counter-Notification to the WTO, Australia has escalated the concerns and encouraged other countries to also register their discontent.”
Mr Mahar said the NFF was the secretariat for the WTO’s Cairns Farm Group, a coalition of like-minded nations who supported and worked to enhance rules-based global trade.
“These tried and true rules are in place for a reason, to provide a level playing field and to foster international competitiveness.
“The WTO rules allow market price supports of up to 10% of the total value of production but the Indian payments in recent years have been above as high as almost 100%.
“Calling out such serious deviations is of critical importance.
“We are grateful for the Government’s willingness to do so in this instance and hope by drawing a line in the sand, these issues will be reduced into the future,” Mr Mahar said.

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