A Free Trade Agreement with China could be worth $270 million a year to the Australian beef industry by 2024, a large export processor suggests.
In a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, Teys Australia has thrown its support behind the China – Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), signed in June, and says criticism of the deal by unions over erosion of employment opportunities is simply scaremongering.
The nation’s second largest beef processor says the agreement will bring massive benefits to the manufacturing sector and will stimulate the economy, creating more jobs, including those in regional areas.
Teys general manager corporate affairs Tom Maguire said current tariffs imposed on all Australian red meat exported to China represents an annual tax on the beef and lamb supply chains of around $826 million.
“Anything that opens up a market the size of China can only benefit Australian exporters,” he said.
Mr Maguire said union claims of worker exploitation were ridiculous, as current Australian laws prevent this.
“All workers are covered under Australian industrial law irrespective of their nationality, so to suggest otherwise is simply incorrect.”
“I suspect the unions are concerned about their dwindling membership base, but the reality is that even they will benefit from stronger Australian manufacturing,” he said.
Teys’ submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties called for endorsement of ChAFTA “without delay.”
Once fully implemented, ChAFTA had the potential to boost the gross value of beef production by $270 million annually within the next ten years.
Teys, which employs 4500 people across Australia and generates over 17,000 full time jobs when flow-on effects are considered, adds approximately $2.6 billion to the national Gross Domestic Product, the company said in a statement.
The company has long called for greater market access to stimulate regional manufacturing, as most of its workforce is based in regional areas.
Similarly, JBS Australia has an annual wages bill across its various operations throughout Eastern Australia of around $800 million – mostly located in regional and rural areas.
Mr Maguire said endorsing ChAFTA was an important step and would benefit regional economies, many of which were struggling.