logo logo

Free trade does little for Australia | 13 January 2010

Free trade does little for Australia

Five years into a free trade deal between Australia and the US and horticulture industry insiders say not much has changed

Greig Johnston

Five years into the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Australia and the US, many in the horticulture sector do not believe the deal has been of much benefit to Australia.

A survey of 50 Australian companies across a range of industries found only a few felt they had benefitted from the FTAs Australia has in place with the US, New Zealand, Chile and the ASEAN countries.

Horticulture Australia Council CEO Kris Newton said the sector hadn’t really seen the benefits touted when the agreement with the US came into effect in 2005.

"In general terms my response is, ’what benefits?’" she told the Weekly Times.

David Minnis of 888 Exports described the US deal as a "complete and utter waste of time".

"There’s been little in it for us because the Americans are still basically protectionist," he said.

Mr Minnis said a 4,000 tonne duty-free quota for avocados was useless because of quarantine restrictions and added that reductions in citrus tariffs were worth only A$670,000 a year to the sector.