With the final round of talks aimed at sealing a Trans-Pacific Partnership deal to commence in Hawaii tomorrow, Australian agricultural groups are hoping for a definitive trade-liberalising outcome.
Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb says the TPP stands as the biggest agreement since the 1994 World Trade Organisation talks in Uruguay that delivered the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
After five years of negotiations, this week’s meetings will involve negotiators and trade ministers from the 12 TPP countries and are seen as the make or break moment for the agreement to be secured.
The Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) – representing the beef industries of Australia, the US, Mexico, New Zealand and Canada – says it is vital that a comprehensive, trade liberalising deal be finalised.
Such a deal would help to ensure that beef producers and their supply chain partners can reap the benefits of the envisaged tariff cuts.
In a joint statement issued ahead of tomorrow’s talks, the members of the Five Nations Beef Alliance said the TPP must not be allowed to drift or lose momentum at this crucial stage.
“There is so much to gain from trade reform – with more seamless trade rules, reduced costs and less red tape making it easier for food suppliers, such as the FNBA, to respond to growing global consumer demand,” the statement said.
“The FNBA has consistently called for a non-discriminatory, plurilateral TPP deal that will liberalise the trade in beef products and thereby provide beef farmers, processors and exporters with new opportunities across much of the Asia-Pacific region.
“The Alliance has been buoyed by positive signals from various TPP governments in recent weeks. Now is the time to convert this into action – and deliver on the vision of “a comprehensive, next generation regional agreement that liberalizes trade and investment and addresses new and traditional trade issues and 21st century challenges”.
The National Farmers Federation said a successful TPP would enhance export opportunities for Australian farmers and rebalance the playing field in a region where approximately 70pc of Australia’s total trade takes place.
“While significant progress has been made to bridge the gap on a number of difficult issues, renewed commitment is required to bring the agreement to a timely close,” NFF president Brent Finlay said.
“As talks advance, we join with other groups in urging Australian negotiators to hold to ambitious targets for the benefit of the broader Australian economy.
“Focus is now on the Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb MP, representing the interests of Australian farmers on the global stage.
“Creating new opportunities for Australian farmers in some of our most important markets cannot come soon enough.”