Free trade deal boost

By Chris Thomson | posted on March 8, 2018

A FREE trade deal expected to be signed in Chile today has the potential to drive more business to the Great Southern and South West regions, says Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson.

Mr Wilson said Australia’s agricultural industry would have unprecedented access to international markets when the so-called Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership comes into effect.

He said the deal, expected to be signed by member nations in Chile today, would give farmers in O’Connor new and improved access to markets in 10 countries around the Pacific Rim.

The agreement will see the immediate elimination of tariffs on sheep meat exports to all participating countries, with the exception of Mexico, which will phase in the removal of tariffs.

Tariffs on beef in Japan will be reduced over the next decade, while tariffs in Canada, Peru and Mexico will be eliminated during the same period.

Mr Wilson said wine producers would benefit from the removal or reduction of tariffs on Australian products in Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam and Peru.

CEO of the Wine Industry Association of Western Australia Larry Jorgensen told The Weekender that the state’s wine industry welcomed the agreement.

“Removing tariff and non-tariff barriers to free trade in an established market such as Canada and developing markets in our region will allow WA producers to further grow profitable export markets,” he said.

Tariffs on Australian seafood sold in Vietnam will be eliminated immediately and phased out in Japan and Mexico over the next 15 years.

CEO of the WA Fishing Industry Council John Harrison said the “elimination of any trade barriers is always welcomed”.

“The extent to which Western Australia can capitalise on seafood exports is yet to be determined,” he added.

Mr Wilson said the agreement presented a major opportunity for local businesses to become internationally competitive and expand their operations.

“A very significant portion of Western Australia’s commodity exports originate from O’ Connor, and this deal has huge potential to drive growth in our local industries,” he said.

“It will create better market conditions for WA businesses, giving them access to new markets and higher levels of demand on a scale that we’ve never seen.

“We’ve experienced a massive growth in our exports to China since we signed the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement – for example, in a nine-month period last year, bottled wine exports grew 129 per cent to $498 million.”