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Andren rejects thrust of trade report.

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22 JUNE 1998


Andren rejects thrust of trade report


Independent MP Peter Andren proved to be the odd man out when a parliamentary inquiry into the benefits of world trade reform was tabled in Federal Parliament today.


The inquiry was conducted by the House of Representatives Primary Industries Committee, of which Mr Andren is a member.


However, Mr Andren distanced himself from his colleagues and put out his own dissenting report, calling on the Government to take a tougher stand against dumping of subsidised imports.


“I don’t believe the majority report addresses many of the major concerns that are impacting on regional and rural industry and society,” Mr Andren said.


“More than twelve months of hearings around Australia, which began before the Asian downturn, have failed to convince me that we are gaining more than we have given up in the trade reform process.


“There are many rural industries suffering as a result of the trade liberalisation agenda.


“Challenge Implements, a family company making add-on attachments to tractors at Orange has been a leader in innovation. Now without a modest 5% tariff protection, its market is likely to be overrun by more than a dozen multinational suppliers enjoying cheaper steel prices and economies of scale the five local manufacturers can only dream of,” Mr Andren said.


“While ever Canadian pork producers receive subsidies between 11 and 16 percent, while ever other countries maintain tariff barriers, Australia should retain a quota on such imports and immediately seek the local industry’s protection under the WTO Safeguard Provisions,” Mr Andren said in his report.


“I reject the majority report’s finding that by focussing on the domestic market, the pigmeat industry has lagged behind in restructuring to improve its international competitiveness.


“The industry has in fact vastly restructured and I totally agree with the Pork Council’s submission that the costs of trade liberalisation outweigh any benefits that may have been delivered to date.


“If Denmark applies a 30% tariff, then we should argue our right to impose a similar tariff until they agree to settle the issue through bilateral talks,” Mr Andren said.


Mr Andren also highlighted the need for a “bottom up” approach to market access with producers owning and driving the supply chain to control far more of the returns from paddock to plate.


The Parliamentary report “Adjusting to Agricultural Trade Reform” will be debated in parliament over the next two weeks, with the Government expected to respond to the findings and recommendations later in the year.


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