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Vaile accepts better access to US for Australian farmers on the never-never.



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Senator Kerry O’Brien Shadow Minister for Primary Industries and Resources Craig Emerson MP Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry and Trade

2 June 2003

Vaile accepts better access to US for Australian farmers on the never-never

The Howard Government has signalled that it would accept the deferral of better access to the US market for Australian farmers in the US-Australia free trade agreement.

In giving this bad news to Australian farmers, Trade Minister Mark Vaile used Australia’s Closer Economic Relations Agreement with New Zealand as an example, pointing out that after 20 years it is still progressing to its final goal of free trade.

The recently concluded US-Chile free trade agreement defers US market access for Chilean agriculture for up to 12 years.

Labor calls on the Government not to sell out Australian farmers in the US-Australia free trade negotiations.

Putting agriculture on the never-never would be a total betrayal of Australian farmers.

Deferring agricultural market access for 12 years would mean the main benefits to Australia are three Congressional elections away. A 20-year deferral is five elections away.

That’s a long time for a future Congress to have a change of heart.

For gains on the never-never, Australia may have to bear pain up front in a weakening of our quarantine system, higher prescription medicine costs and changes to local content rules for Australian television.

5:05 PMComment: Kerry O’Brien 0419 007 780 or Jack Lake 02 6277 3843 Craig Emerson 0418 781 386