AUSTRALIA – The Government’s trade policy statement, issued today, forms a solid platform to drive Australia’s trade reform agenda and is a timely reminder of the value of trade to the Australian economy, according to the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).
“Minister Emerson’s trade policy statement reinforces how important the trade liberalisation agenda is, not only for Australian farmers, but for the whole Australian economy,” NFF President Jock Laurie said.
“Australian farmers are more acutely aware than most of the enormous distortions in global markets that undermine the prices received for food and fibre at the farm gate. It has not been easy, but we have managed to survive in a sector where protectionist barriers on international markets are more than three times greater than in any other sector of merchandise trade.
“Despite the potential gains being significant, it is easy to become complacent in driving for reform to the international trading arena when so many world leaders are failing to back up their rhetoric with solid action. It is a great disappointment to the NFF that gains have been so few and far between in this critical area of policy – it has been difficult for farmers not to lose heart.
“The five principles outlined in today’s trade policy statement are consistent with the trade agenda being driven by the NFF for over thirty years and must now be converted into tangible, improved market access opportunities for Australian farmers.
“Australian farmers are relying on the conclusion of high quality, comprehensive trade deals that result in tangible market access, not deals based on foreign affairs and so called ‘geo-political’ motives. Multilateral efforts are clearly where the greatest gains can be made for farmers, yet these must be effectively supported by bilateral and regional agreements.
“Importantly, the Minister has highlighted that domestic reform efforts should not be abandoned through the process and much work remains in this area – whether it be enhancing the competitive environment, upgrading dilapidated infrastructure or removing regulatory red tape that hinders farmers’ ability to compete.
“It is a critical time for the global community as they look to finalise a Doha deal on the back of yet another strong mandate from the G20 and APEC.
“Today’s statement gives the NFF confidence that Australia, unlike many other nations, will not be dragging the chain in these negotiations and that genuine, meaningful, trade reform will retain an important place in the Government’s policy agenda,” Mr Laurie said.
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