A first order of business for Australia’s next Federal Parliament must be to ratify the Indonesia-Australia trade agreement, says the National Farmers’ Federation.
NFF CEO Tony Mahar said the now signed Indonesia-Australian Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was crucial for Australian agriculture and represented money direct into the pockets of farmers.
” IA-CEPA will deliver improved market access for live cattle, feed grains, beef, sheepmeat, dairy, sugar, fruit, carrots, potatoes and honey.
“The agreement has the support of both major parties, but we are yet to see it introduced to Parliament.
“Doing so must be a first order of business for for the 46th Parliament,” Mr Mahar said.
NFF CEO Tony Mahar (far right), Luke Matthews (far left), Grain Growers Limited and Troy Setter (second left) CPC were invited by Trade Minister, Simon Birmingham to attend the signing of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in Jakarta during March.
The progressing of on foot negotiations and an ambitious trade agenda is a key ask in the NFF’s 2019 Federal election priorities.
“The Coalition and Labor have long agreed on the need for trade policies that promote Australian exports and drive competitiveness at home. The NFF celebrates the strong bipartisanship we’ve seen on trade for many years.
While support is one thing, continued real action is another. We’re calling on both parties to commit to doing more on trade.
Mr Mahar said this included the ratification of the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement; putting agriculture’s interests at the heart of negotiations with the European Union and strengthening trade ties with China and India.
“The rapid conclusion of an ambitious agreement with Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership countries and the Gulf Cooperation Council and innovative initiatives to reduce non-tariff barriers must also be priorities.”
NFF President Fiona Simson has led Australian agriculture’s representation in negotiations towards a free trade agreement with the European union, including meeting numerous times with the Pekka Pesonen, the Secretary-General of European farm group COPACOGECA.
Mr Mahar said farmers relied on open and secure access to key markets across the globe.
“Australian farmers export two-thirds of what they produce and are among the least subsidised farmers in the world.
“Trade agreements that materially improve access for Australia’s food and fibre is money direct into farmers’ pockets, benefiting regional communities and the economy as a whole.”
Mr Mahar said the importance of IA-CEPA, for example, could not be overestimated.
Food consumption in Indonesia is predicted to have quadrupled by 2050. Fostering a highly productive trade relationship with Indonesia is a priority for Australian agricultural exporters.
The NFF is calling on a new Government to ensure the trade impacts of all government policies are considered.
“Increasing our international competitiveness and reputation as a reliable supplier of quality products starts at home. This includes infrastructure policy and its direct contribution to improving supply chains; biosecurity policy and its role in maintaining production capacity and our reputation as a supplier of safe and healthy food products.
“Regional development policy that supports the growth of Australia’s agricultural sector is also crucial.”
“In the lead up to polling day, the NFF looks forward to hearing from both major party’s on their intentions to do more on trade and specifically, their plans to expedite the ratification of IA-CEPA,” Mr Mahar said.
Explore NFF’s Agriculture: Growing Australian election priorities for more information.