GrainGrowers Trade and Economics Manager, Luke Mathews, said that the overwhelming benefits of the TPP-11 for the Australian grains industry meant that its ratification by the Australian Parliament would be warmly welcomed by the industry.
Mr Mathews welcomed the current Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) enquiry into the trade agreement, saying that the TPP-11 was a positive step and would help boost prices for Australian grain growers.
“The average value of Australian grain exports to TPP-11 members over the past five years is A$1.6 billion, contributing some 15-20% of all Australian grains exports,” said Mr Mathews.
“Several TPP-11 countries are individually critically important for the Australian grains industry. The TPP-11 includes three of Australia’s most important grain export markets, being Vietnam (1.6 million tonnes), Japan (1.5 million tonnes) and Malaysia (940 thousand tonnes).”
Mr Mathews said that Australia’s grain trade to the region is dominated by wheat (4 million tonnes), followed by barley (382 thousand tonnes), and canola (216 thousand tonnes).
He said it was important to realise that the global trade liberalisation process was both a difficult and ongoing process.
“The various FTAs that the Australian government negotiates must be complementary and deliver improved market access compared to the agreements that preceded them. For this we welcome the fact that TPP-11 builds upon the market access gains delivered by the existing trade preferential trade agreements Australia already has with a number of TPP-11 countries, including ASEAN-ANZFTA and JAEPA,” Mr Mathews said.
Mr Mathews said that improved market access resulting from TPP-11 was most apparent in the Japanese market, where the TPP-11 promised reduced mark-ups (tariffs) and additional quota access for wheat, barley, malt and canola oil.
“In addition to the market access outcomes, the TPP-11 will play an important role in encouraging mutual recognition of standards and reducing non-tariff barriers in the region,” said Mr Mathews.
“TPP-11 includes improved processes for rules of origin, self-certification and increased transparency on import licensing, export arrangements and food security claims,” he said.
“Similarly, TPP-11 includes a Technical Barriers to Trade Committee, which it is hoped will assist with the management of increasingly prevalent technical barriers to trade internationally.
“In short, we encourage the Australian parliament to ratify TPP-11 in its current form as quickly as possible.”
Mr Mathews commented that if the United States re-entered the TPP, Australia would lose its competitive edge for a number of agricultural commodities in TPP markets, including grains.