The Australian dairy industry has backed the stance by Trade Minister Simon Crean in refusing to accept China’s exclusion of agricultural products from a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Negotiations for the Australia – China FTA have been in train since 2005 but so far have produced little movement in China’s position in limiting Australian dairy exports.
Yet in that same time frame New Zealand has concluded an agreement that allows preferential access to the Chinese market for New Zealand dairy products.
Australian Dairy Industry Council Chairman Allan Burgess said that had already had an impact on Australia’s trade with China and said in these difficult times it was just not possible to effectively match our largest competitor in this market when shackled by tariffs that they no longer have to pay.
Mr Burgess emphasized that concluding an agreement of a similar quality to the one New Zealand has with China was a key priority for the Australian dairy industry’s trade policy objectives.
Mr Crean was reported in the press earlier this week as putting China on notice that Australia would not agree to an outcome less favourable for agricultural products than the one finalised with New Zealand.
Mr Burgess said the Australian dairy industry does not see any significant threat to China’s dairy industry from the proposed FTA since the Chinese dairy industry was now the world’s third largest and more than three times the size of the Australian industry.
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