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Labor outlines Asia trade policy, beef exports to China resume

The Federal Labor Party this week revealed its plan to grow Australian trade opportunities in Asia.

Unveiled by Shadow Trade Minster Jason Clare, FutureAsia outlines ways to strengthen China-Australia trade ties; suggests new ways to tackle non-tariff trade barriers and proposes increased review of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

Australia’s farm sector has its sights set on a production value of $100 billion by 2030. A rise of 40% from its 2016-2017 record of $60 billion.

National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson said expanded exports would be key to achieving this.

“More food and fibre exports, means a more prosperous farm sector, leading to more jobs and ultimately more vibrant regional communities.

 “About 65% of the food and fibre Australian farmers produce is exported. Australian farmers compete in a highly competitive global market against highly subsidised competitors.

“Therefore, bipartisanship, that ensures FTAs and the negotiations towards them continues no matter what party holds office, is crucial.”

Ms Simson said the NFF welcomed all innovative ideas to expand market opportunities for Australian farmers.

“The farm sector is certainly supportive of efforts to tackle non-tariff trade barriers including potentially the FutureAsia proposal to better coordinate the Federal Government’s approach to non-tariff trade barriers resolution.”

Ms Simson said ideas to forge closer ties with China through extending in perpetuity China-Australia Week and establishing a China-based internship for young Australian professionals, were positive.

The farm sector is certainly supportive of efforts to tackle non-tariff trade barriers including potentially the FutureAsia proposal to better coordinate the Federal Government’s approach to non-tariff trade barriers resolution.
Fiona Simson, President, NFF

However, she said Labor’s proposal to task the Productivity Commission (PC) to conduct an independent economic analysis of FTAs could be problematic.

“What the farm sector would not want to see is an additional level of red tape that has the potential to hold back the benefits agreed to for Australians farmers.

 “Practically, we have questions about how such a review process would work, which we will be working through with Mr Clare.”

What the farm sector would not want to see is an additional level of red tape that has the potential to hold back the benefits agreed to for Australians farmers.
Fiona Simson, President, NFF

In other trade news this week, China lifted a ban, which had been in place for three months, on beef exports from six Australian processors. Collectively the processors make up a third of Australia's beef trade to China.

Beijing had cited dissatisfaction with labelling as the reason for the ban.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said he appreciated the constructive engagement with the Chinese authorities, which led to the positive resolution of the matter.

Australia's beef exports to China were worth more $670 million last year, making it Australia's fourth-largest market.

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