The beer, wine, sugar and dairy industries are dismayed at Parliament’s delay in ratifying the already-negotiated free trade agreement (FTA) with Peru.
The delay follows a Labor Party proposal for the deal to be revised despite Peru ratifying the agreement on 22 February.
For the FTA to come into force it must be ratified by each country’s parliament.
However, it’s unlikely the deal will pass both levels of the Australian Parliament before the next Federal Election.
Australian farmers and businesses are now fearful they will miss the opportunity to benefit from early tariff reductions.
During the past 10 years Peru has been one of the world’s fastest growing economies – and the fastest growing economy in Latin America – with the same gross domestic product as Vietnam and the same population base as Malaysia.
The deal, if ratified, will eliminate a 17 per cent tariff on beer, a 9 per cent tariff on wine and will allow market access for Australian sugar and dairy.
The Australia Dairy Industry Council chair Terry Richardson said he was worried that Australia might be seen to be lagging behind when improved market access is at stake.
“Peru has historically been a sensitive market for Australian dairy exports, but this agreement gives our Industry Country Specific Quota access, which actually exceeds the volume of trade in recent years,” Mr Richardson said.
“This provides improved certainty for Australian exporters into Peru, and helps keep Australian dairy on a level playing field with competitors such as the EU and the USA, who already have their own deals in place with Peru.”
International trade is essential for the growth of our industry.
National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson said the deal should pass parliament as soon as possible and urged Labor not to weaken its commitment to free trade.
“Trade agreements have traditionally enjoyed strong bipartisan support, because the major parties have recognised how important trade is to the Australian economy and we hope this commitment will continue,” she said.