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Australian farmers reap rewards of Japan trade deal

07 September, 2015

Clear benefits of agreements such as the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) are flowing through to farmers from only six months trade following the 15 January 2015 entry into force of Australia's free trade deal with Japan.

Primary producers and exporters across Australia are already seeing boosts to their bottom line as a result of tariff cuts gained under the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA).

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said exports of beef, table grapes, wine and mangoes were among the commodities that were reaping the rewards of reduced tariffs.

"Despite the fact JAEPA only entered into force in January this year, exports have exploded across the board, driving solid profits back to the farmgate," Minister Joyce said.

"Beef exports for the first six months of 2015 have increased by 31 per cent compared with the same period last year—a huge result in our second biggest export market for beef, worth a total $1.9 billion in 2014–15.

"Fresh horticulture exports to Japan have also seen solid growth, increasing by almost 15 per cent for the first half of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.

"This has been boosted by growth in table grape exports—grown from a zero base in 2014 to around $10.5 million in 2015 after the JAEPA tariff reduction and successful negotiation of an import protocol in 2014.

"Almond exports have also grown by over 360 per cent to be worth over $1.6 million so far in 2015, along with mangoes which have seen exports to Japan double to $315,000 for the first three months of 2015.

"We've also seen a ten per cent increase in the value of wine exports to $44 million, and bulk wine exports have increased five-fold by volume since the start of full tariff elimination.

"Seafood exports have also benefited with tariffs across a range of commodities already eliminated. Exports of prawns for example have doubled in volume to 188 tonnes in the first six months of 2015, to be worth over $3.6 million."

Minister Joyce said that tariffs were set to continue to gradually reduce across a range of commodities, making exports even more attractive.

"These results mean real increases in returns to farmers—and tariffs are set to drop even further over the lifetime of the agreement," Minister Joyce said.

"Not only that, but JAEPA has also provided access to new quotas for a range of products saving exporters about $2.9 million in tariffs to the end of May 2015.

"ChAFTA will continue the delivery of real benefits to Australian primary producers and the rural and regional communities they support but the cost of Labor's opposition to this agreement could be devastating.

"Australia is a trading nation—and our agriculture sector epitomises this. Our farm exports have underpinned the nation's economic prosperity for generations, and we're determined to ensure we are well placed to meet some of the huge projected rise of global demand for food and fibre, driven by population growth and rising incomes in developing economies.

"We also face stiff competition from other nations who export the same products into these markets—and agreements like JAEPA and ChAFTA give us the edge.

"For instance, under JAEPA, tariffs for Australian beef are now almost 25 per cent less than the tariff faced by the United States, our biggest competitor in this market.

"Negotiating comprehensive trade agreements with our key trading partners is a part of our plan for Australian agriculture and that's why this government tirelessly pursues the best trade and market access opportunities on behalf of our exporters—and the proof is in the pudding. Labor must free itself from the servitude of its union masters and do what's right by Australia."

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