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Forrest supports bilateral trade.

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Media Contact Sally Turvey (03) 5032 4510 -ends-

Tuesday, 16 September 2003


Federal Member for Mallee John Forrest called for Primary Producers not to be discouraged by the collapse of multilateral trade discussions in Mexico.

Speaking in the Parliament on Monday he said “anybody who thinks that the outcome in Mexico was somehow a surprise does not know much about the difficulties of negotiating such large multilateral arrangements.”

He said it will be a long road to achieving multilateral agreements but, thankfully, this is not the government’s only approach to creating market access for primary industry, which is why the current bilateral discussions with Japan and China are so important.

“I support the government’s approach which is like not putting all our eggs in one multilateral basket. China and Japan are massive markets,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the multilateral approach alone was the approach the Labor party took in the late 80’s which cast the citrus and dried fruit industries to the wolves.”

Mr Forrest went on to say “I came to this parliament in 1993 because of the inappropriate decisions that had been made in pursuit of those large multilaterals, which resulted in wholesale reductions in Australia’s tariffs for imports that saw tariffs reduced virtually overnight from 30% to 5%. They were forced to go cold turkey in adjustments, with no help from this parliament and the Labor government of the day.”

“My producers are very much interested in what the government is doing on the multilateral front but more so in regard to the bilateral negotiations with Japan and China in particular.” Mr Forrest also said that “the issue is more consistency about fair trade. That is what my farmers are asking for - fair trade and market access.”

“This government has focused very determinedly on both approaches, and what the outcome of Mexico highlights is the importance, of negotiating bilateral agreements together. We have a fall back; and we have a lot hanging on the outcome. “

My constituency, particularly those large primary producers of commodities like wheat and citrus, have been encouraged by the efforts of the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries

John Forrest MP National Party Member for Mallee

Phone (03) 5032 4510 Fax (03) 5032 9407

Media Contact Sally Turvey (03) 5032 4510 -ends-

and Forestry a fortnight ago when he was in China. He was specifically negotiating much better arrangements for those important commodities, and that will help my constituency.”

“I am about the best interests of Australians, especially farmers,” Mr Forrest told the Parliament. “Let us focus more on having a balanced approach to creating access to those important markets. This will put the economy of this Nation on a sure footing,

supported by primary producers who have objectives and can set targets with confidence, like the wine industry. Here is a good example of a primary industry that sets its targets and, with some confidence the markets are opening up to it. It is fast approaching a $2 billion industry making it an important contributor to this nation’s

economy,” said Mr Forrest.

“Throughout the electorate of Mallee there are many commodities which stand to benefit from fair trade and we should not regard Mexico as a disappointment, we have a fall back in what we can achieve on a bilateral basis with Japan and China,” he said.