AFGC welcomes TPP revival

The Australian Food & Grocery Council says the resurrected Trans-Pacific Partnership, covering 11 nations that together constitute around 30 per cent of the global economy, will bring significant benefits for Australia’s food and grocery sector.

The US was originally included in the partnership, but President Donald Trump withdrew the country soon after his election. The 11 nations set to sign the deal in March are Japan, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.

The latest version of the arrangement is known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

AFGC CEO Tanya Barden says the CPTPP builds on earlier trade agreements with Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, and will further open up some of Australia’s key export markets, particularly in the food, beverage and grocery sectors.

“The significance of export opportunities for the food and grocery sector, which exports over $32 billion, cannot be understated when it has been under pressure from rising energy costs and six years of domestic retail price deflation continues to cut margins,” she said.

“At a time when Australia’s economic growth is under pressure, we cannot afford to put a handbrake on one of the few shining lights, the agri-food sector. Now is the time to build on our advantage.”

One of the strong benefits of an 11-country trade agreement, says Ms Barden, is the move to greater alignment and harmonisation across the region on regulation and behind the border trade issues.

“This is particularly relevant to the export of food items that generally face onerous import controls that differ from nation to nation,” she said.

“The parliamentary process for reviewing international trade agreements will provide an opportunity to review the TPP agreement in great detail. At the forefront of that review must be the promotion of jobs, investment and growth for Australia’s economic prosperity.”

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