After only two months in force, Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said Australia’s Free Trade Agreement with Korea (KAFTA) was already delivering significant benefits to Tasmania – particularly the horticulture industry – strengthening the local workforce and economy.
Speaking during a tour of Reid Fruits at Plenty – one of Australia’s largest cherry exporters – Mr Robb said Tasmania’s reputation as a world class producer of premium primary produce meant farmers are well placed to capitalise on Asia’s increasing demand for Australia’s clean, green, quality exports.
“When I travel through Asia, it’s obvious just how popular Australia’s quality produce has become among the growing middle class, and the landmark Free Trade Agreements we’ve secured with Korea, Japan and China means Australian exporters, including those here in Tasmania, can access these markets more competitively,” Mr Robb said.
“For example, when KAFTA was introduced on 12 December last year, Korea’s 24 per cent tariff on cherry imports was scrapped immediately. As a result, Reid Fruits’ exports to Korea sky-rocketed, going from five tonnes last season, to 183 tonnes this season.
“Exports to China are also expected to surge in the future when the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) enters into force later this year,” Mr Robb said.
The Member for Lyons Eric Hutchinson said the benefits to the local economy could not be overstated.
“During the peak of the season, Reid Fruits employed 600 people across their orchard and packing sheds, providing local jobs and boosting the Tasmanian economy,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“Tasmania is in the enviable position of being free of pests and disease such as fruit fly and fire blight, so growers around the state certainly have the potential to mirror the success of Reid Fruits in Asian markets.”
Tim Reid, managing director of Reid Fruits, praised the benefits of the agreement saying it’s opened up exciting possibilities.
“Since the agreement with Korea started, overseas buyers have been coming to us, not the other way around,” Mr Reid said.
“Our production is likely to double over the next five years, and the Free Trade Agreements with Asia play a big part in that.”
Mr Robb said other industries in the local area were set to benefit not only from KAFTA, but from the powerful trifecta of North Asian agreements the Abbott Government had concluded.
“Together these transformational agreements account for 62 per cent of our goods exports and 19 per cent of our services trade,” he said.
“They will increase export opportunities across a wide range of industries: from beef, wheat, sugar, dairy, wine, horticulture and seafood. It will also open up significant opportunities for service providers.
“I urge businesses here in Tasmania to take full advantage of the opportunities they create,” Mr Robb said.
A guide for exporting and importing goods under the FTA’s can be found at: http://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/Pages/about-ftas.aspx
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