The opportunities for Australia agriculture offered by the Trans Pacific Partnership are too significant to give up on.
This was the message from National Farmers Federation Tony Mahar in response to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of US involvement in the deal this week.
Mr Mahar said many years of negotiating had been invested in getting a host of wide-ranging deals across the line for Australian agriculture and the NFF would support any attempts to salvage these.
“While it is certainly not ideal not to have the US there – there is great intent amongst the other 11 parties to the TPP – and I don’t think we should squander this.”
Mr Mahar said the NFF supported Prime Minister Turnbull’s resolve to keep the TPP alive but conceded without US involvement there was a tough road ahead.
"It may be that there is the opportunity to negotiate a ‘new-look’ TPP. In the interim we must continue to focus on other on-foot negotiations including that of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)."
With the TPP now on life support gains to industries across the ag sector are in jeopardy.
In particular access to the US and Asian-Pacific markets for Australian sugarcane growers looks almost certainly lost.
CANEGROWERS Chairman Paul Schembri said it was a case of so close yet so far for his industry.
“The TPP represents a significant opportunity for us to gain increased access to one of the most lucrative markets in the world,” Mr Schembri said.
“The big prize in the TPP was not an immediate benefit from accessing the US sugar market.
“We were initially only going to be able to sell another 80,000 tonnes of sugar into the US, taking our access to 150,000 tonnes.
The big prize that we have lost is an improved framework for selling sugar in the Asia-Pacific for the foreseeable future and the opportunity of moving towards selling up to 500,000 tonnes to the US in the future.
Paul Schembri, Chairman, CANEGROWERS
The Cattle Council of Australia said the TPP represented access to untapped markets for Australian beef.
The TPP offered improved access conditions to Canada and Mexico for the red meat industry and reduction of tariffs on beef exported to Japan.
Howard Smith, Chairman, Cattle Council of Australia
Australia currently does not have a trade deal in place with either Canada or Mexico.
Grain Growers Limited Chair John Eastburn said the TPP would have been another string the bow of the free trade deals already benefitting Australian grain farmers.
“The grain industry gains from the China and Japan preferential trade agreements are clear.”
Grain Growers Limited has represented the interests of grains throughout TPP negotiations. Through this process we have been able to negotiate maintained and even enhanced access against our key competitors for major commodities such as wheat and barley into key markets such as Japan.
John Eastburn, Chair, Grain Growers Limited
The NFF, the sugar, beef, grain and other agricultural industries have this week vowed to continue to work to see the opportunities of the TPP realised.
“Australian farmers are amongst the least subsidised in the world,” Mr Mahar said.
“Therefore deals delivering preferential access, lower tariffs and other complimentary non-tariff measures are crucial to our intentional competitiveness.”
As the 2017 Parliamentary sitting year approaches to Mr Mahar called on the Government, the opposition and cross-benchers to take a bi-partisan approach to trade.
Trade, free trade, is too important to our economy to be the subject of politicking.
Tony Mahar, CEO, National Farmers' Federation
Read more on the views of the sugar, cattle industries on the future of the TPP.