Agriculture is now Australia’s fastest growing industry. Last year, it grew by 23% – fastest of all 19 industries measured in our GDP statistics.
The Coalition Government’s landmark export agreements with China, Japan and South Korea are already delivering benefits for agricultural industries and we are working to capitalise on these opportunities and to deliver even more free trade agreements including the recently signed agreement with Peru and the completion of negotiations with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as the TPP-11.
Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) promote stronger trade and commercial ties between participating countries, and open up opportunities for Australian exporters and investors to expand their business into key markets. They are particularly beneficial when they seek to remove barriers in highly protected markets or gain a foothold in potential or expanding markets.
By facilitating access to these markets, FTAs provide significant commercial benefits to Australia’s exporters and in turn, wider economic benefits to all Australians.
As an example, last year Australia saw strong growth in produce exported to India. Australian almonds exports grew by over 50 per cent, and chickpeas by almost 90 per cent to a record value of $1.1 billion.
Since that period of growth the Indian Government has indicated they will be increasing tariffs on key agricultural commodities such as chickpeas, lentils, wheat and sugar.
Chickpea imports in particular are set to see a massive 44 per cent tariff imposed, while lentils had a 30 per cent tariff applied in December. These decisions will seriously harm the profitability of Australia pulse growers.
While negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between Australia and India are ongoing these sudden tariff increases are a timely reminder of why FTAs (which would prevent such actions) are so important.
Improving market access for Australia’s agricultural exports is vital for supporting a vibrant competitive agricultural industry.
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