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Vaile signals US FTA agricultural trade gains years away.



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KERRY O’BRIEN LABOR SENATOR FOR TASMANIA SHADOW MINISTER FOR PRIMARY INDUSTRIES

27 July 2003

VAILE SIGNALS US FTA AGRICULTURAL TRADE GAINS YEARS AWAY

Trade Minister Mark Vaile has failed to assure Australian farmers that immediate improved access to agricultural markets is achievable under a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.

Mr Vaile has told today’s ABC Insiders program that the Howard Government wants “improvement” on the market access gained by other signatories to trade deals with the United States.

But the Minister refused to nominate immediate agricultural access as a threshold issue in Australia’s FTA negotiations.

Ominously, Mr Vaile refused to criticise the 12-year phase in period for some commodities that has formed a part of the recent FTA between the United States and Chile.

Mr Vaile has shown no determination to deliver a better deal for Australian farmers in our FTA negotiations.

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has identified immediate market access as a key criterion for farmers’ support for the prospective FTA.

On 21 July this year NFF President Peter Corish said:

“NFF is seeking an outcome that delivers unimpeded access for Australian farmers to the US market, and for this access to be delivered up front - not subject to long phase-in periods.” [AAP, 21 July 2003]

It appears Mr Vaile is preparing the ground for an FTA that fails this critical test.

For comment: Kerry O’Brien 0419 007 780 Jack Lake 0438 773 842

44 Charles Street, P.O. Box 1193, Launceston TAS 7250 Phone (03) 6334 9366 Fax (03) 6334 9369 Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 Phone (02) 6277 3842 Fax (02) 6277 3780 Email: senator.obrien@aph.gov.au