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Opportunity lost, says UDV

Victorian dairy farmers will continue to pay millions of dollars in tariffs imposed by Japan despite the recent trade agreement, the UDV claims.

GEOFF ADAMS April 22, 2014 3:10am

UDV president Tyran Jones said the Victorian industry had been ignored by the Federal Government in negotiating a free trade agreement with Japan.

He said the UDV was extremely disappointed at the lost opportunity to secure a better trade deal with Japan.

Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone also expressed disappointment with the outcome for dairy farmers.

Mr Jones said dairy farmers currently paid $116million a year in import tariffs on $511million of processed dairy products going into Japan.

‘‘That equates to almost a quarter of the value of our total dairy trade to Japan,’’ he said.

‘‘We understand that all we’re getting out of this FTA is a few million dollars of tariff relief at best.

‘‘Japan is a huge market for us, with 130000tonnes of Australian dairy produce hitting their shores each year. We deserve a better deal.

‘‘The FTA has cut tariffs on Japanese car imports, which will save Australian buyers about $1500 on a new Japanese car. But what have we got in return for dairy?

‘‘I’d hope that dairy hasn’t been traded off in this FTA, while Japanese car manufacturers have been given free access to the Australian market.’’

Mr Jones said dairy was the classic value-add product with regional towns across the state providing the capability for the fresh milk to be processed locally.

‘‘While the trading situation for dairy farmers has improved this year, the government should understand the world dairy market is undergoing significant transformational change,’’ he said.

‘‘The US and European Union are set to swamp the global marketplace with subsidised dairy products, making it even harder for Australia to compete on a level playing field.’’

Dr Stone said the Australian dairy industry had once again come out of the talks with very little respite from the huge duties imposed on their exports.

‘‘As with the Korean agreement, there is little extra value to be had,’’ she said.

‘‘The dairy industry will only see significant tariff reductions in products like yoghurt and ice-cream.

‘‘Fresh milk, milk powders, butter and dairy spreads have not been included in the JAEPA, as these are considered Japan’s most sensitive dairy products, meaning they still have domestic producers.

‘‘Rice, pork, sugar and grains have not fared much better.’’

Dr Stone said the Federal Government was working hard to make better deals in Australian export markets that had long had huge barriers to trade.

‘‘Every or any improvement in reducing these barriers is a step in the right direction, but it is a great pity that we are so far from a level playing field.’’

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