House debates

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Trade

2:59 pm

Photo of Damian DrumDamian Drum (Nicholls, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison-McCormack government has acted to ensure Australian export opportunities are maintained through the coronavirus pandemic so that businesses can keep selling their products as well as keeping Australians in jobs?

3:00 pm

Photo of Andrew GeeAndrew Gee (Calare, National Party, Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education) Share this | | Hansard source

On this side of the House we know that trade is absolutely critical to the prosperity of Australia and country communities around our nation. And I thank the member for Nicholls for his question, because he knows only too well the importance of growing export opportunities for his local farmers and local producers, particularly in the Goulburn Valley through iconic local firms such as SPC Ardmona. We on this side of the House know that international trade generates no less than one in five jobs in Australia and that over the last five years alone there have been over 240,000 trade-related jobs created in this country. And so we know and we are acutely aware of the importance of foreign markets for our primary producers and our local businesses because, by value—and here are some stats for you, Member for Nicholls—we are the world's largest exporter of wool, the second-largest exporter of beef, and the fourth-largest exporter of sugar, wine and cotton.

Mr Christensen interjecting

And the member for Dawson loves the sugar references. International trade supports commodity prices—so, during this devastating drought when farmers have had to sell their stock, they haven't had to sell it for a song. Our network of free trade agreements is absolutely crucial to our national success, and we've already delivered in spades through FTAs with key partners such as Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and China, and also with partners such as Vietnam and Canada through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I'm delighted that a host of agricultural producers will reap the benefits of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which will enter into force on 5 July. Yes, under that agreement, 99 per cent of Australian goods will enter Indonesia tariff-free or under very preferential agreements. And our agricultural producers are some of the biggest winners, so, for example, in my electorate of Calare, the cherry producers Bernard and Fiona Hall will be able to start selling their cherries into Indonesia tariff-free from day one of that agreement being implemented. And our beef exporters will enjoy enhanced access to the Indonesian market. So, for example, in the member for Nicholls's electorate, Ralphs Meats will be able to sell their high-quality beef from the Goulburn Valley right into Indonesia. So it's a big win for country Australia, but the coalition won't be resting on our laurels. We're moving on free-trade negotiations with the United Kingdom and we are backing our free trade agreements, backing our farmers, backing our businesses and backing our country communities to enjoy jobs, opportunities and prosperity. (Time expired)