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FTA with S. Korea a big boost to Australian agriculture: minister

English.news.cn   2014-02-17 09:15:28

CANBERRA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said on Monday the country's Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea will serve as a big boost to Australia's agriculture sector.

Robb released the full text of the 1,800-page document of FTA with South Korea, under which a 40 percent tariff on beef exports will be scrapped and the Korean market would be opened up to other agricultural exports such as sheep meat and wine.

"These sorts of opportunities are just critical, especially given the situation in agriculture," Robb said at a press conference in Canberra.

"There is an exploding market on our doorstep, but we have to be able to compete."

Robb said the United States, as another major beef exporter, secured a free trade agreement with South Korea two years ago and hence has achieved an 8 percent advantage over Australia in beef export to the Northeast Asian country.

He said that the deal will boost agricultural exports to South Korea by more than 70 percent over the next 15 years, and manufacturing exports by up to 30 percent.

The auto components sector, hit by the loss of Holden and Toyota's local manufacturing operations, will immediately become more competitive as an 8 percent tariff will be removed in the South Korean market, he said.

Australian consumers will benefit from cheaper South Korean- made cars as a 5 percent import tariff designed to protect jobs in the Australian motor industry is removed over the next three to five years.

The agreement is yet to be finally signed and is set to take effect from the end of this year, subject to parliamentary ratification.

What might become a concern for Australia is the inclusion of the so-called "investor-state dispute settlement" (ISDS) mechanism, which gives foreign companies the right to sue the Australian government if they think they are being denied access to Australian markets.

But Robb believes safeguards built into its design mean its inclusion will not leave Australia exposed. He said the so-called "non-discriminatory" action taken by a government - that is, action that does not single out just one company - will not be liable to legal action under the ISDS.

Editor: chengyang
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