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Monday, 29 February 2016
Page: 1315


Senator WILLIAMS (New South Wales) (15:51): I move:

That the Senate notes that:

(a)   the 162 members of the World Trade Organization have agreed to end agricultural export subsidies;

(b)   over time, these countries will no longer have the right to subsidise their agricultural exports, which will make Australian farmers more competitive in markets such as meat, dairy, sugar and wine;

(c)   Australia has a reputation for producing clean green produce and is developing strong markets amongst Asia's growing middle-class, following trade deals with three of our four largest export markets;

(d)   Australia's exporters have been benefiting from the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement since its entry into force in January 2015 - in the 2015 calendar year, when compared to 2014, fresh/chilled beef export values increased by 22 per cent as tariffs fell from 38.5 per cent to 31.5 per cent; tariff falls from 12.8 per cent to 7.6 per cent saw Valencia orange exports up by 35 per cent; and export sales of fresh table grapes and shelled almonds increased more than ten-fold as their tariffs dropped from 7.8 per cent to 5.9 per cent (in season), and 2.4 per cent to zero, respectively, and over the same period, large bulk wine exports doubled as the tariff was completely removed, and export sales of rolled oats were up more than 50 per cent;

(e)   Australia's exporters are also making the most of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement, also in force for more than a year - in the 2015 calendar year, when compared to 2014, exports of shelled macadamias more than doubled as the tariff was reduced twice from 30 per cent to 18 per cent; export values for chipping potatoes jumped 64 per cent when a seasonal tariff dropped from 30 per cent to zero for the December-to-April Australian growing season, fresh beef export values to Korea increased by 37 per cent, frozen beef was up 30 per cent, and bottled wine jumped by 54 per cent, as tariffs on those products fell, and other export products to see significant growth included navel oranges, and fresh asparagus;

(f)   to complete the trifecta, exporters to China are capitalising on the two tariff cuts that have already taken place under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement since 20 December 2015, which the National Farmers Federation previously estimated may save Australian farmers up to $300 million in 2016 alone; and

(g)   the Australian Government is ensuring access to premium overseas markets is maintained and enhanced with the appointment of a further five agricultural counsellors in Vietnam, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, China and Thailand which are worth close to $14 billion to our exporters.

Question agreed to.