Anti-trade activists who are trying to derail negotiations for the world’s largest regional trade and investment deal are effectively trying to stop Australian agriculture from surging ahead.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement involves 12 countries, including Australia, which collectively represent 40 per cent of global GDP or about $28 trillion as well as 800 million people. After seven years of negotiations the finish line is within reach.
Critically for agriculture, the National Farmers Federation says that without the completion of the TPP, combined with the landmark free trade agreements this government has concluded with Korea, Japan and China, the sector will not meet its key objective of doubling in value by 2030.
Modelling work conducted by the U.S. Department for Agriculture shows that Australia would be the biggest beneficiary of all 12 countries under the TPP. By 2025 the TPP could add U.S. $2.6 billion extra to the annual value of our agricultural exports – an increase of more than 19 per cent. This would include $1.6 billion extra for our meat exports, $357 million for dairy, $161 million for cereals and $485 million extra across a range of other agriculture and horticulture.
When you add these gains to the benefits that will flow from the powerful trifecta of North Asia agreements, there is cause for real optimism around Australian agriculture, which is one this country’s great strengths. Those groups which oppose these agreements are perversely opposing higher growth, more jobs and improved living standards in rural and regional Australia.
The TPP for example will provide new market openings in countries where we do not have existing trade agreements namely Canada, Mexico and Peru along with enhanced levels of market access in those countries where we do like America, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei and Malaysia.
The key aim of the TPP is to create a more seamless trade and investment environment across these countries, with the scope for more countries to join at a later date. Importantly for us as a services economy, the TPP also extends to a wide range of services and also places emphasis on facilitating access to increasingly important global value chains for small to medium sized businesses, including high-end manufacturers.
Those groups opposed to the agreement are using overblown arguments about secrecy and lack of transparency as their main argument to undermine the negotiations. Of course there is a degree confidentiality around the negotiations, as there is with any commercial negotiation, but there is also extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders throughout. This includes at the initial stage when formulating our negotiating objectives and parameters. This consultation is invaluable in both informing and guiding our approach to what are typically complex issues. There have in fact been more than 1,000 TPP consultations since 2011 and these continue.
Finally, The TPP text will not be kept secret. Once it is agreed between parties it will be made public and also subjected to extensive scrutiny and inquiry before implementing legislation is considered and voted on by the parliament.
Australia has an enviable reputation for premium ‘clean, green and safe’ produce and agreements like TPP will help ensure our farmers have the market access they need to drive home the advantage we have over many competitors in terms of quality.
- Trade Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555