Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Korea and other emerging Asian markets, such as China, are essential to the long-term profitability of Australia’s sheepmeat producers and processors according to Sheepmeat Council of Australia (SCA) president, Ian McColl, who is encouraged by Trade Minister Andrew Robb’s determination to finalise a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Korea.
Currently, New Zealand has a competitive advantage in China as they have finalised an FTA.
Mr McColl said finalising the Korean and China FTAs are at the top the SCA’s list for the new government as they can deliver improved profitability to the entire industry, including to producers.
“There is significant potential to grow consumption in Korea. Over the past few years Australian sheepmeat exports to Korea have risen steadily, with the volume during 2012-13 around 4,000 tonnes (three quarters lamb and one quarter mutton) – the second highest exports on record. These volumes might seem small but we ship sheepmeat to over 70 markets worldwide and each market is important to our industry’s profitability.
“The Government must concentrate on these critical trade deals. Australian agriculture can continue to play an important role in the economy but reducing trade barriers is imperative and the agreements must be comprehensive. This requires including key commodities like sheepmeat.
“Australian producers have been waiting for years for the finalisation of some of these agreements. In the meantime our main competitor, New Zealand, has been able to capture market advantage”, he said.
“We need action that delivers real farm-gate returns to the sheepmeat production sector in Australia.