Tuesday, 18 September 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Senator Birmingham. Will the minister advise the Senate on how the Liberal-National government helps Australian farmers and businesses sell our goods and services to the world?
I thank Senator Williams, Wacka, for his question. He is a great champion of Australian farmers and businesses and their interests. Australia is an exporting nation. It's exports that underpin so much of our economic strength. Around two-thirds of Australia's agricultural production is exported to the rest of the world. Our first and second export commodities are mineral and mining resources. Our third is, of course, in the emerging and growing services sector in terms of enormous education resources. Our exporters underpin around one in five Australian jobs, and they need the best access at the lowest cost to global markets for their goods and services. That's why the Liberal-National government has worked so hard over the last five years to ensure that our exporters' rights to those markets are protected and enhanced at every possible opportunity.
Our trade deals with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, coming on top of earlier agreements such as the agreement with the United States, are making it easier for Australian farmers and businesses. Five years ago, only 26 per cent of Australia's goods and services trade received duty-free or preferential access to overseas markets. Now, our signed agreements ensure that nearly 70 per cent of our trade has such preferential access or duty-free access. With current negotiations underway, that figure could grow to 88 per cent. That's what's helped to see exports of wine into China nearly quadruple from $211 million in 2014 to $827 million in 2017, beef exports to China surge to reach some $780 million last year and duty-free quotas for cheese and butter under ChAFTA provide huge opportunities for dairy products, to give just a handful of high-profile and significant benefits to Australia's farmers and businesses.
In short, with enthusiasm! It is with the enthusiasm and energy that you would expect Australian farmers and businesses to bring to the opportunity to be able to reach into more export markets. Around 89 per cent of surveyed exporters in 2017 exported to a market where we have an FTA in place. Last week in the chamber, I spoke of a couple of Tasmanian businesses—Ashgrove Cheese and SED Shellfish Equipment—that are doing such great work under our FTAs. In my home state—in your original birth home state, Senator Williams—of South Australia, in Mount Gambier, Mayura Station's full-blood wagyu beef is considered to be one of the highest-quality beef products and is now served in some of Asia's top restaurants, exported under our FTAs. Riordan Grains, for example, a Victorian grain grower exporting to China since the tariff was eliminated in 2015, has seen significant increase in their trade. Queensland's Grove Juice is using access opportunities under the Korea, Japan and China deals, indicating just how much versatility there is for these producers to grow their markets. (Time expired)
As the Prime Minister has said, no-one benefits from trade disputes or a global trade war. Today's announcement from the United States is a concerning development and we urge all parties to step back from further escalating tariffs and to tackle trade distorting subsidies or other issues. Australia's strong and growing economy—some 27 consecutive years of economic growth—is an example to the world of looking outwards, of engaging and of seizing export opportunities and the benefits that come from trade and investment. The Liberal-National government will ensure we continue to have the backs of Australian industry. We'll work hard to ensure they aren't caught in the crossfire of today's news by continuing to pursue new opportunities for Australia's farmers and businesses to access markets at the lowest possible cost. That's what's behind the deals we've already done: it's behind the TPP-11, it's behind ongoing negotiations with the EU, with Hong Kong, with other markets around the world. We will continue to work hard to make sure our farmers and businesses can keep ahead. (Time expired)