Visiting Japan this week is Federal agriculture minister Joe Ludwig, leading a trade delegation seeking to strengthen Australia’s $12.6 billion agricultural trade relationships in the North Asia region.
Mr Ludwig, also visiting China and South Korea, has been joined by a delegation including representatives from Australia’s beef, cotton, fodder, grain, wool, and seafood industries.
Included in the touring party is newly-elected Cattle Council of Australia president, Andrew Ogilvie, making his first representative visit to Japan.
“With demand for Australian produce growing and barriers to trade decreasing, it’s important Government and industry work to maintain these close trading relationships and ensure producers, processors and consumers continue to benefit from the valuable opportunities it presents,” Mr Ludwig said yesterday.
The combined value of Australia’s agricultural, fisheries and forestry exports to China, Japan and the Republic of Korea was more than 35 percent of Australia’s total agricultural exports in 2010–11.
Mr Ludwig said the Government would continue to pursue bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements, ensuring Australian farmers could continue to increase exports of their world–class products across the globe.
“Australia continues to encourage reform of global agricultural markets through multilateral trade liberalisation,” Mr Ludwig said.
“Bilateral and regional agreements, such as the Trans–Pacific Partnership (TPP), can complement these efforts. The TPP is an important regional initiative to create a comprehensive, ambitious FTA that will eliminate tariff and other barriers to trade and investment.”
“This will be great news for Australian farmers. It will mean improved access to export markets and greater trading potential.”
In Japan, Mr Ludwig and his delegation saw first-hand the impact of the recent tsunami on Japan’s agricultural production. The group also spoke to members of Japan’s National Diet (Parliament), advocating agricultural trade liberalisation and highlighting the importance of agriculture in ongoing Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
In Korea, the delegation is looking at how to enhance cooperation on agriculture, and underline Australia’s position regarding agriculture in the ongoing FTA negotiations between the two countries. Successfully negotiating at FTA with Korea has become an imperative, given the recent ratification of an FTA between Korea and the US, which will see trade barriers on beef and other commodities substantially lowered over the next 15 years.
In all three countries, Mr Ludwig is attending events promoting Australian agricultural exports including beef, horticulture, wheat and wine.
CCA president Andrew Ogilvie said the marketplace visit was an excellent opportunity for the Minister and industry delegates to represent the interests of Australian farmers in key markets.
* See today's other trade story "Japan marketing budget under the microscope."