Push for sweet deal
Nationals want TPP talks to treat sugar seriously
NATIONALS MPs have threatened to cross the floor of federal parliament if sugar gets a raw deal in the massive Trans- Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
Six of the party’s Queensland representatives have joined forces to say sugar must not be left out of the 12- country trade deal.
“A token deal for sugar in the TPP will not be sufficient,” George Christensen, Michelle Landry, Keith Pitt, Ken O’Dowd and Senator Matt Canavan said in a joint statement yesterday.
“We could not in good conscience give support to enabling legislation for the TPP if it ignores one of the most important industries in our state.”
LNP Queensland Senator Barry O’Sullivan has similar views.
Trade Minister Andrew Robb is in Hawaii this week for what is hoped to be the final round of talks on the deal.
He has pledged not to sign any agreement that doesn’t offer something to Australian sugar cane farmers.
The industry wants greater access in particular to US markets, but the Americans are holding out.
The Nationals group says a better deal on sugar is in the interests of both countries.
A successful deal for sugar is potentially a $ 100 million boost for the sugar industry.
Canegrowers chair and Australian Sugar Industry Alliance spokesman Paul Schembri said the Nationals had acknowledged the sugar industry had been excluded in past trade deals.
“We think it’s time governments got serious about ensuring that sugar will be a substantial beneficiary of this trade deal,” Mr Schembri said.
“For us, it’s the TPP or nothing. We want successful access.”
Mr Schembri said his advice yesterday was that a full spectrum of outcomes from inadequate to meaningful access were possible.
“I understand a TPP announcement could be made as early as this weekend,” Mr Schembri said.
“We are applying as much lobbying and influence as we can.
“We have asked for an allocation of 700,000 tonnes which we think is more than eminently achievable.”
While the worth of any deal is subject to sugar prices, a figure of 700,000 tonnes would be worth more than $ 100 million to the Australian industry.