STEVEN CIOBO: Sugar cane growers in Queensland, for those who have their livelihoods dependent upon this crop, this is going to make a material difference. This gives them real options in terms of having another market to export to, having a toe-hold in that market, one that they can then of course use to grow their export volumes, and that's terrific news.
SAMANTHA HAWLEY: So how big a material difference will it make?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, we've got to see ultimately – it's not one factor at play, there are multiple factors at play in any marketplace, but clearly, reducing a tariff, and a tariff that is punitive in nature, and reducing that so we are able to compete with other competitor nations like Thailand is great news for Australian farmers.
SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Do you acknowledge though it is a risky market for Australia in many senses, in the fact that the legal system can be unpredictable and it can be very difficult for businesses to operate here as well. There are many barriers to that, including the fact that corruption is still a problem in this country.
STEVEN CIOBO: Australians make decisions about which markets they want to enter into. But let's be clear about Indonesia. This is an incredible country of opportunity and Australians can either choose to be part of the opportunity here or not. That's not something where we're going to command Australian businesses to go into or not go into a market. That's their choice about whether or not they believe there's a future or an economic potential for them in a market like Indonesia. Now currently, Indonesia is a rapidly growing, modernising economy, one that is promising over the next 10 or 20 years to possibly be the fifth to seventh biggest economy in the world. Australia, given its geographic proximity, has real opportunity in this market. We can, together with Indonesia, build a situation where we have got some good supply chains, global value chains between Australia and Indonesia. That's the opportunity that the Prime Minister and the President are focused on, it's the opportunity that I'm focused on and what we want to do is remove barriers to trade as much as we possibly can.
SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Can I ask you about palm oil, because I understand that is on the table? What protections will Australia put in place given the great and deep concern about the burning of the forest in Indonesia?
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, in terms of palm oil, Indonesia obviously produces palm oil and they've got domestic laws that they have in place in relation to that, and there's also of course a global movement where people will look at sustainability. And, of course, the most logical thing for any country is to have a sustainable industry and that's what people look to.
SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But you acknowledge that there is great concern about the palm oil industry in Indonesia and burning of the forest?
STEVEN CIOBO: I think that some people are concerned about some practises, but let's not tar all people with one brush. The fact is that there are a lot of good operators who abide by the appropriate standards that have an interest in a sustainable future, and of course anyone who has any vision beyond 12 months looks for sustainability as being the key.
SAMANTHA HAWLEY: I think I'm asking you then how will you ensure that Australia is only taking palm oil from those -
STEVEN CIOBO: Well, Australia is Australia and we look at our supply chains based upon decisions that purchasers make in Australia and clearly we've seen examples in the past where consumer movements have focused on, for example, boycotting products where they don't believe there are sustainable supply chains, and other products where they see sustainable supply chains and they'll get a consumer notion of support. So I think that's a great way that consumers exercise their choice about supporting those companies that engage in sustainable practises and that's the best possible and the most important way to do it, which is through consumer buying behaviour.
- Trade Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555