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Dairy industry fears a raw deal from Japan FTA

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ABC Rural | 4.4.2014

Dairy industry fears a raw deal from Japan FTA

By Sarina Locke

Dairy farmers believe Australia’s free trade agreement with Japan could signed by Monday.

But they don’t believe the deal will deliver them anything.

Japan is Australia’s largest dairy market, taking 19 per cent of exports, worth $511 million in 2012/13.

Noel Campbell, of the Australian Dairy Farmers, says he’s heard the agreement offers access to Japan that falls well short of expectations, and farmers won’t accept it..

"We believe that the change that’s been offered is very marginal.

"In year one, it’s only $3-5 million.

"That’s insignificant for the whole dairy chain, to get $3-5 million. It’s nothing.

"We’re not prepared to accept that."

He says the deal shouldn’t be signed if there’s no advantage.

"Once you are locked into a free trade agreement, you’ve got that for an unspecified time.

"If we don’t do an agreement, we can go back at some future point to renegotiate.

"We’re concentrating on cheese, because that’s our main market in Japan. We don’t believe there’s anything we’ll get with butter or powders.

"Our cheese is blended with local product. We believe we’re competing not against local producers, but against New Zealand and the United States who are trying to get into our main market."

Noel Campbell is heading to China on Sunday night with a 100-strong trade delegation led by Trade Minister Andrew Robb, and he says there’s no point heading to Japan with the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

"If there is a deal done, it will be done over the weekend, if not early next week

"I think we’ve done as much as we can do, to this point in time, with the government.

"So I don’t think there’s much more we can do on the Japanese front."

Victorian dairy farmer Adam Jenkins says the Government shouldn’t sign the deal, for the sake of just having a deal. He thinks there’s a lot more that could be gained for Australia’s high quality dairy exports to Japan. It’s estimated Japan’s current tariffs and trade barriers are costing the dairy export industry in excess of $100million per year.

 source: ABC