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Japan FTA dairy concerns

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Farmonline | 27 Mar, 2014

Japan FTA dairy concerns


The Australian dairy industry is concerned dairy will be left out of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Japan.

Australian Dairy Farmers president Noel Campbell told the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) in Melbourne annual conference yesterday he had major concerns about the FTA.

The push by the Australian Government to have a hand-shake deal done by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, when he visited Japan in April could see dairy miss out, Mr Campbell said.

The Japanese agricultural sector was strong and parochial and was resisting any moves to open access to Australian agricultural products.

Mr Campbell said it was never a good idea when negotiating to tell the other party there was a deadline.

It would be better for negotiations to take another 12 months if the results were better.

“We need to get the right result,” he said.

Mr Campbell said the Korean FTA was not particularly good for dairy and “we’ve made that known to the government”.

The main problem was the timelines with tariff reductions staggered across 15 years and the allocation of milk powder quotas.

Dogged negotiations between Japan and Australia continued in Tokyo yesterday but failed to resolve issues with import tariffs on beef and dairy products in a likely FTA.

Federal Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb and Japanese Farm Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi spoke to journalists after their meeting yesterday saying tough but positive talks were held.

But they also issued caution, warning that more discussions were needed before any trade agreement can be struck.

Speaking from Japan, Mr Robb told Fairfax Agricultural Media his meetings yesterday were held in good spirit with clear will on both sides.

But he said: “It is a tough negotiation and we are at the really difficult end”.

Mr Robb said important ground was still to be made up in regards to beef and dairy.

- with additional reporting from Colin Bettles, the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media

 source: Farmonline