Agricultural growth 'on track' amid China tensions: government

Agricultural growth 'on track' despite China tensions: government

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A plan to grow the agriculture sector to $10 billion is still 'on track', the government says.

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Tasmania remains "on track" to grow its agriculture sector to a $10 billion-a-year industry by 2050, the government says.

The government asserted its positive progress on the target amid ongoing tensions between Australia and its biggest trading partner: China.

China is also Tasmania's biggest trading partner, with $1.15 billion of exports in 2018-19 and a quarter of all agri-food exports.

A government spokesperson pointed to their 2019-2025 trade strategy when asked about what a further deterioration of relations with China might mean for the $10 billion target.

"The Tasmanian Trade Strategy builds the capacity of our exporters to continue to respond effectively to the challenges and opportunities in the global market place," they said.

"In addition, through the framework of the Whitepaper on competitiveness of Tasmanian agriculture for 2050, we will continue to work with agribusiness to develop our agri-food sector, expand markets and achieve our $10 billion growth target for the value of agriculture."

Minister for Trade Jeremy Rockliff also pointed to the Interim Trade Action Plan release in July and its "immediate trade initiatives to support Tasmanian business and industry to maintain, reclaim and grow our reputation in national and international marketplaces".

"With changing and uncertain global markets due to the pandemic, we are aiming to position Tasmania well for recovery and prosperity by growing our international export capacity, sales and reputation," he said.

Labor Leader and Shadow Minister for Trade Rebecca White said there were opportunities to value-add on agricultural products in areas such as red meat "where the government should be urgently pursuing new processing capabilities that would create more jobs and protect the integrity of the Tasmanian brand".

"This has become increasingly urgent as a result of the pandemic and the additional pressure brought on by the diplomatic and trade tensions being played out with China at a national level," she said.

"China accounts for more than a third of Tasmania's exports, this leaves us vulnerable and exposed if those relationships continue to deteriorate and China's appetite for our imports declines further."

China, the United States, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore were identified as five key markets for engagement in Tasmania's trade strategy.

Mr Rockliff said the government's overarching strategy was based on "building a resilient export sector, with a focus on market expansion, diversification and managing export risks".

He said trade would remains "a key driver of jobs, innovation, and growth in the economy throughout the state" as Tasmania adapts to the pandemic.

The value of Tasmania's agricultural sector was $1.64 billion last financial year.

The story Agricultural growth 'on track' amid China tensions: government first appeared on The Advocate.

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