Cau­tion urged on trade deal

Pilbara News - - Business - Tom Zaun­mayr

■ The WA Gov­ern­ment has joined their Fed­eral coun­ter­parts in wel­com­ing the con­clu­sion of ne­go­ti­a­tions for the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship.

But the Op­po­si­tion and WA stake­hold­ers have urged cau­tion, not­ing that de­tails about the ben­e­fits of the agree­ment that would con­trib­ute to an in­formed de­ci­sion were scarce.

Agri­cul­ture and Food Min­is­ter Ken Bas­ton said the new agree­ment would elim­i­nate more than 98 per cent of tar­iffs in the TPP re­gion, re­mov­ing im­port taxes on about $9 bil­lion of Aus­tralian trade.

“With about 33 per cent, or $15 bil­lion, of Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­tural ex­ports go­ing to TPP coun­tries in 2014, this re­gional trade agree­ment could open up new ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties for Western Aus­tralian farm­ers,” he said.

“Apart from re­duc­ing tar­iffs in many of our ex­ist­ing mar­kets, this may open a few more doors in the highly com­pet­i­tive global agri­food mar­ket — par­tic­u­larly in the rapidly grow­ing Asia-Pa­cific re­gion, with its ris­ing mid­dle class.

“Ex­port mar­kets are vi­tal for our agri­cul­ture and food sec­tor, and the State Gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing mar­ket and trade de­vel­op­ment sup­port for Western Aus­tralian agribusi­ness.”

Fed­eral MP Alan­nah MacTier­nan said the ben­e­fit of deals sim­i­lar to the TPP had been over­stated in the past.

“Cer­tainly there has been a lot of hype about it but there is some con­cern around the in­vestor state dis­pute res­o­lu­tion which could re­duce our sovereignty in im­por­tant ar­eas,” she said.

“I just think in this day and age we need to have more trans­parency about the whole process and about what we’re putting on the ta­ble.

“There’s not the com­mu­nity en­gage­ment peo­ple ex­pect in the 21st cen­tury.”

Pas­toral­ists and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Tony Seabrook said the TPP did not seem to of­fer a lot to the peo­ple he rep­re­sented.

“Free trade is al­ways a great thing and we en­cour­age it by all means but I think the China FTA will be far more im­por­tant, that agree­ment will de­liver far more to pro­duc­ers than the deal that has just been ne­go­ti­ated,” he said.

“I think there is a real con­cern in the high cost of labour in Aus­tralia.

“When I said in my speech ear­lier that Amer­i­can work­ers are work­ing for $15 per hour it’s not be­cause they’re be­ing driven into poverty, it’s be­cause the cost of liv­ing is so much lower in the US.”

Mr Seabrook said Aus­tralia would strug­gle to com­pete with the TPP trad­ing part­ners who have lower cost economies.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.