FTAs essential for Mayo farmers

Free trade agreements (FTAs) are essential for the profitability of farmers and sustainability of agriculture in Mayo and across Australia.

Liberal candidate for Mayo Georgina Downer said regional electorates where agriculture was a significant economic contributor needed representatives who supported FTAs for the tremendous benefits they brought to farmers.

“We’ve already seen some amazing results for farmers from the FTAs the Coalition Government concluded with Japan, Korea and China,” Ms Downer said. “Our agricultural exports have increased rapidly, approaching $50 billion a year.

“An important sector in Mayo which serves as a great example of success due to FTAs is the wine industry. Australian wine exports to China are now worth more than $1 billion.”

Ms Downer said the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP-11, which Australia signed in March this year, represented yet more good fortune for farmers and agriculture in Mayo.

“TPP-11 is a free trade agreement between 11 countries in the Pacific region with a combined GDP of more than $10 trillion,” she said. “Australia’s trade with these other economies (including Japan, Canada, Singapore and New Zealand) is worth around $164 billion a year.

“In 2016-17 Australia exported around $12 billion worth of agricultural goods to these countries. TPP-11 will eliminate many tariffs on key Mayo agricultural products like beef, dairy, sheep meat and wine while also gaining our products preferential quota access in some key markets.”

Ms Downer said with Rebekha Sharkie dismissing the benefits of FTAs in Parliament last week, farmers in Mayo would be disappointed she was not representing their interests.

“It’s quite alarming Rebekha Sharkie has peddled the same old scaremongering myths about free trade in opposing legislation which would implement TPP-11 and directly benefit a major industry in Mayo,” she said.

“I’m astonished Rebekha Sharkie, like Donald Trump, opposes the TPP and all FTAs when the evidence is clear they’re good for our farmers in Mayo. Farmers in our electorate deserve better.”