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"Don’t delay China-Australia FTA"

Support for the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is crucial for growth in horticulture, especially for job growth in Australia, says the Voice of Horticulture (VOH).

In light of wavering commitment to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Australia’s largest organisation representing fruit growers, Voice of Horticulture (VOH), has spoken up in support of finalising the FTA promptly.

“To not support the FTAs, and in particular the China FTA, is effectively limiting employment growth, and the huge export potential of Australian horticulture,” says VOH Chair Tania Chapman.

Horticulture – the production of fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, turf and nursery plants – is Australia’s third largest agricultural sector with a Gross Value of Production of $10 billion per year. Moreover, horticulture is the largest employer in agriculture with over 60,000 employed.

“An important strategy to grow this employment is to export our produce overseas, because there is a huge opportunity there that extends us beyond our relatively small domestic market,” says Tania. “We have made some progress in recent years with citrus, almonds, table grapes etc., but trade barriers and protocols limit our growth.

“Recent FTAs with Japan and South Korea and, potentially, the China FTA can be real drivers for horticultural growth.

“This growth will require more skilled workers on farms and in packing sheds, transport, logistics, and on-farm quality control. It will also require more staff in export businesses both in Australia and in the destination countries to undertake promotions, sales and quality control.”

Australian horticulture has the potential to grow many times over with the growing demand for Australia’s ‘green’ and safe agriculture produce, but this can only be achieved in the major markets of Asia with FTAs that bring down the barriers to trade.

“Not only will the FTAs encourage exports and enable substantial growth in the sector, but also remove excess production from the domestic market, helping growers get a fair price for their produce by making the sector more competitive,” explains Tania.

“FTAs would therefore provide substantial benefits to the 30,000 plus horticultural enterprises in Australia regardless of whether they have the opportunity to export of not.”

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