Australian Broadcasting Corporation | Thursday, 10/06/2010
Australian farm leaders reassure Japanese about effects of free trade deal
- "The Minister is, I think, reflecting the sensibilities of a lot of Japanese farmers, who are old and very conservative," says Australia’s National Farmers Federation president David Crombie. (Photo: Japanese beef producer, courtesy ABC.net)
Farm leaders are touring Korea and Japan in a bid to shore up trade deals with two of Australia’s most important markets.
It comes as Japan’s new Prime Minister has appointed an Agriculture Minister with strong views against trade liberalisation and food imports.
Masahiko Yamada has a history of writing about the threat of food imports, and in 2006 wrote a blog outlining how the Australian free trade agreement would destroy Japanese agriculture.
Trade Minister Simon Crean has just returned from Tokyo, where he says, despite agriculture being the sticking point in free trade negotiations, the new government is positive about moving forward with a deal.
Speaking from Seoul in Korea, National Farmers Federation president David Crombie says his group had assured Japanese farmers that Australia didn’t pose a threat.
"There’s a mood in Japan for modernisation of the economy. There needs to be, and part of that is freeing up of the borders," he says.
"Now, the Minister of Agriculture is, I think, reflecting the sensibilities of a lot of Japanese farmers, who are old and very conservative.
"Look, it’s in the interests of the Japanese economy that they free up their imports, and what they need is a better partnership with a reliable supplier like Australia."