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Farmers want guarantee on Japan FTA

ABC Finance News, Australia

Friday April 22, 2005

Farmers want guarantee on Japan FTA

The National Farmers Federation says a free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia and Japan would be counterproductive if it did not include agriculture.

Japan has agreed to Australia’s request for a two-year feasibility study, which might lead to talks on a free trade deal.

Farmers Federation president Peter Corrish says Japan has so far indicated it is not keen to negotiate on agriculture.

Mr Corrish says the NFF will seek a guarantee that agriculture is not left out.

"If they were successful and agriculture was included, there would be huge benefits for Australian farmers.

"But [there is] a long way to go and we would be looking forward to those guarantees that agriculture will be included in any negotiation going forward," he said.

The Australian sugar industry is concerned it might again be left out of free trade talks.

Sugar was not included in the deal recently struck with the United States, and Ross Walker from the Australian Cane Farmers Association says that might have set a precedent.

Mr Walker says sugar should be included in any Japanese free trade deal.

"I’m quite sure that Australia could compete very well with our other competitors to supply a lot more sugar into those markets," he said.

"And being in the far east region, of course, we have an advantage in those markets over, say, the likes of Brazil."

 source: ABC