Australia’s trade minister Andrew Robb has rejected media suggestions that the Australian Government is considering supporting measures in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations that could potentially harm Australia’s cattle herds.
Earlier this week the Australian ran an article suggesting that the US has made last minute requests in Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks for Australia to lower its biosecurity standards and open its market to fresh beef imports from the US, in return for improved access for Australian dairy and sugar exports to North America.
The Australian’s article suggested that the move would open Australia’s “clean, green and disease-free” cattle herd to risk of contamination from mad cow disease or BSE.
Mr Robb said the claims were “absurd”.
“Let me be clear, Australia’s robust biosecurity regime is based on the best of science and it is not up for negotiation in the TPP, full stop,” he said.
“Sadly, this is the latest round of scaremongering by people who are prepared to say or do anything to derail the negotiations and to deny Australia the benefits,” he said.
Mr Robb said if anything the TPP would restate WTO rules that provided for each country to determine its own level of science-based protection with regard to biosecurity.
“Australia has a reputation second to none when it comes to ‘clean, green and safe’ produce and that is something we are looking to further leverage through trade deals such as the TPP,” he said.
Mr Robb said to oppose the TPP is to deny Australian agriculture the opportunity to reach its full potential in the years and decades ahead.
“More seamless trade among 12 countries representing around 40 per cent of global GDP will help drive growth, create jobs and produce higher living standards for Australians,” he said.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce told The Australian the TPP talks would not lead to changes in Australian biosecurity protection.
“American beef coming into Australia is not affected by TPP talks or any other trade negotiations because the reason American beef cannot come into Australia is biosecurity standards,” Mr Joyce. “We have no fears of American beef coming into Australia on economic grounds — it is not allowed for biosecurity reasons.”
See the original article in The Australian here