It hasn't been without its setbacks, but yesterday the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) came to fruition promising new opportunities for Australia's farmers.
In a day that a year ago, looked like it may never arrive, Trade Minister Hon Steve Ciobo MP joined the 10 other TPP-11 partners to sign the historic preferential trade agreement in Chile last night.
National Farmers' Federation (NFF) President Fiona Simson said the wins for agriculture would be wide ranging and highly valuable.
"The TPP-11 offers preferential market access for dairy; cotton; barley; beef and live cattle; offal, processed meat and animal fats; sheepmeat; seafood; wheat; and wine.
"This means farmers have more markets where to sell their products on a more even playing field.
"It will generate investment on-farm that will flow through to rural and regional economies.
"Trade is good for farmers and it's good for Australia as a whole," Ms Simson said.
Like other preferential trade agreements already benefiting farmers, the TPP-11 will serve to even the playing field for Australian farmers on the world stage.
Fiona Simson, President, NFF
Under the agreement, tariffs will be eliminated or reduced for a range Australian farm exports in Canada, Mexico, Japan and Vietnam.
"This means Australian food and fibre becomes more competitive in these markets which provides the opportunity to create new, and grow existing markets, that will provide lasting benefit to farmers and all Australians into the future."
Highlights of the TPP-11 for agriculture include:
- new reductions in Japan’s tariffs on fresh, chilled and frozen beef, (Australian exports worth $2.1 billion in 2016-17);
- new access for dairy products into Japan, Canada and Mexico, including the elimination of a range of cheese tariffs into Japan covering over $100 million of trade;
- new sugar access into the Japanese, Canadian and Mexican markets;
- tariff reductions, and new access for our cereals and grains exporters into Japan, including, for the first time in 20 years, new access for rice products into Japan;
- elimination of all tariffs on sheepmeat, cotton and wool; and,
- elimination of tariffs on seafood, horticulture and wine.
Ms Simson said today's signing was a result of commitment by Minster Ciobo and the Federal Government to find a way through the difficulties.
"The TPP was essentially on life support, when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States' support in early 2017.
"To their credit, Minister Ciobo and his international peers remained committed to seeing these historic negotiations deliver a meaningful agreement," Ms Simson said.
In particular, the TPP-11 provides preferential access for the first time to Mexico and Canada for beef, dairy, grain, seafood, sugar and wine. These markets have been effectively blocked to Australia until now.
"Like other preferential trade agreements already benefiting farmers, the TPP-11 will serve to even the playing field for Australian farmers on the world stage.
“At a time of protectionist rhetoric around the globe, the ultimate beneficiaries of this agreement will be the collective 495 million consumers who will enjoy a greater range of products, derived from high quality Australian food and fibre.”
All eyes now on Parliament to ratify agreement
Before trade deals are legally binding in Australia, they must be ratified by Parliament. TPP-11 now begins a rigorous parliamentary review process, which has become a political minefield in recent years.
Ms Simson said it was crucial all parties and politicians stood by Australia’s efforts to open new markets.
"The Parliament now has the chance to scrutinise the terms of the agreement on its merits.
"We ask that they resist the temptation to politicise the review and ratification process,” Mr Simson said.
The TPP-11 is a multi-country trade agreement between: Australia; Brunei; Chile; Malaysia; New Zealand; Peru; Singapore; Japan; Vietnam; Mexico; and Canada.
Australian Government: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade TPP-11 outcomes and background documents can be found here.