With discussions on the Australia-Japan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations looking as though they will soon be concluded, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) remains adamant that the agreement must deliver good outcomes for all Australian farmers and agribusinesses.
NFF and members this week met with Japan’s political trade representative, Koya Nishikawa, who led a trade delegation in Canberra. NFF president, Brent Finlay, conveyed a clear message that Australian agriculture would only accept a trade agreement that was beneficial for the entire sector.
“Our members are concerned that there will be potential carve-outs for certain commodities. If it’s not likely to be a good deal for all, it will not be supported by the industry,” Finlay said.
“The tariff regime remains a significant point of conjecture within this agreement. All sectors—wool, cotton, beef, pork, lamb, dairy, sugar, grains, horticulture and rice—must get improved market access.
“If the government is serious about agriculture being a pillar of the Australian economy, there needs to be a genuine commitment to deliver commercial results for our sector with trade deals,” said Finlay.
Nishikawa also met with the Australian Minister for Trade, Andrew Robb. There is speculation that an initial agreement will be struck when Prime Minister Tony Abbott meets his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo in April. It is likely the agreement will then be finalised later in the year, when Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, visits Australia.
“We urge Minister Robb and Government officials to stand up on behalf of the Australian industry, and not give in to a poor deal that could set a precedent and compromise our farm and agribusiness sectors,” Finlay said.
“The rhetoric has to stop. The NFF has been clear from the beginning, farmers’ expectations are high and if results are not in line with the government’s promise to be ‘open for business’, the agreement can’t be supported.
“There is too much at stake. Too much time and too many resources have gone into these negotiations for it to result in a second-rate agreement. Farmers will not wear that,” Finlay said.
Source: National Farmers’ Federation