Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Trade and Investment. Will the minister update the House on the impact that the government's free trade agreements have had on confidence among Australian exporters? What effect have the agreements with Japan and Korea had on our exports since they came into force?
I thank the member for Lyons and acknowledge the success of Tasmanian Quality Meats, in the member's electorate, who won Regional Australian Exporter of the Year at last Friday night's Export Awards.
The conclusion of our landmark free trade agreements with Korea and Japan—and soon China—is generating great enthusiasm and new levels of confidence. As The Weekly Times reports today, a new survey by the National Australia Bank has found export confidence has been boosted by the lower Australian dollar and the free trade agreements. In fact, 'more than 40 per cent of exporting farmers expect their businesses to grow' significantly in the next three years.
Our exporters' confidence is well founded, with the latest figures showing that Australian exporters have been quick to capitalise on our free trade agreements with Korea and Japan. The reduction and elimination of tariffs have opened up a whole host of new doors and increased our competitiveness. For example, exports to Korea like cabbages and cauliflowers; grapes and other fruits; fish; and bread, cakes and biscuits are up by between 1,000 and 8,000 per cent on last year—between 1,000 and 8,000 per cent. It is true that, with many of those horticultural products, huge percentage increases off a low base do not often translate into huge dollar terms. But what it does tell us is that opportunities are emerging in areas where we previously had no opportunities, we had no market share and we were not competitive until those very high tariffs were removed, as they have been over the last 12 months. In areas where trade was already strong, we are seeing that tariff relief has made it even stronger. Beef exports to Korea have increased by over 30 per cent over the past 12 months and are now worth about $1 billion. Wine is up 39 per cent to $7.5 million, cheese is up 23 per cent to $30 million and lamb is up 34 per cent to $49 million. We have also seen some wonderful export growth in Japan, with fresh beef up 25 per cent to $778 million, frozen beef up 18 per cent to $600 million, shrimps and prawns up 91 per cent, abalone up 94 per cent, wine up 13 per cent and other things up by at least 1,000 per cent. These increases across the board in so many areas of agricultural exports to Japan and Korea show that Australia is starting to see serious growth, serious confidence and serious numbers of new jobs as a result. They prove why the government has pursued such an aggressive trade agreement.