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China FTA: farming industry calls for less politics, more goal kicks

10 September, 2015

According to Simon Talbot, Chief Executive Officer of the National Farmers' Federation, political point scoring on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is a distraction from making real improvements to economic prosperity.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently revealed that falling commodity prices and decreased business investment had led to Australia's slowest quarterly growth rate in more than two years, with GDP growing at just 0.2 per cent, compared with 0.9 per cent in the previous quarter.

Talbot asserts that these economic results are a strong reminder that Australia can no longer 'tread water.'

"We must champion new areas of growth and open up new markets for innovative Australian businesses," he said.

According to Talbot, enacting the China FTA will help to stimulate a new wave of economic growth, acting as a launch pad for small and large business, as well as providing unprecedented entry into the world's second largest marketplace; a marketplace that has access to over 1.3 billion consumers.

"From an agriculture perspective, we only need to look at our New Zealand neighbours to see the huge benefits of preferential market access. Under their free trade agreement with China, New Zealand exports have experienced exponential growth, tripling in value since 2008," said Talbot.

He put forth the view that if Australian agriculture was given the same opportunity, we could be looking at $25 billion in trade by 2020 to China alone, stimulating employment and benefits for Australian families.

"But we need Australian politicians to release the shackles and offer their bipartisan support to the enabling legislation. Doing this will remove over 85 percent of the taxes and duties imposed on Australian goods this year, rising to 93 percent after four years and 95 percent when it is fully implemented.

"The China FTA is an opportunity to supercharge Australian industry at a time when growth is desperately needed. All parties need to end the uncertainty and commit to support the agreement. Denying Australian exporters a double tariff cut for the sake of playing politics would be an unforgivably reckless move we can't afford," said Talbot.


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