AGRICULTURAL lobby groups have welcomed a Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) recommendation that the Federal Parliament ratifies the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) free trade agreement (FTA) and are urging government to ensure funding is available for a key part of the deal.
IA-CEPA has a host of benefits for agriculture, with the jewel in the crown an agreement that Indonesia will take 500,000 tonnes of Australian feed grain of any sort duty-free in move that could be worth more than $200 million for the Aussie grains sector.
Another key plank of the FTA is a the development of a grains-specific economic cooperation initiative, the Australia-Indonesia Grains Partnership, however little is known about what this partnership will deliver in practice or how it will be funded.
In literature surrounding IA-CEPA the partnership is described as providing technical, economic, and social programs to allow the grains and agrifood industries in both countries to flourish.
It is designed to ensure that Indonesian stock feed and livestock industries have the right technical support when using Australian feed grains such as barley.
The office of the Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie has been contacted for comment regarding the partnership but has not yet responded.
Brett Hosking. Grain Growers chairman said funding was critical to ensure the strategic grains partnership went ahead.
"With the release of the Australian Government's report today it is now imperative that the funding commitment for the Australia-Indonesia Grains Partnership by the Australian Government is forthcoming," Mr Hosking said.
"This is an initiative that will enable our growers to work with their Indonesian colleagues and is critical for our businesses.
The National Farmers' Federation (NFF) also wants to see IA-CEPA ratified quickly.
"IA-CEPA locks in lower tariffs and expanded quotas for a range of Australia's agricultural exports from grains and live cattle, to horticultural products, dairy, sugar, beef and sheep meat," NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.
He said IA-CEPA negotiations concluded in August 2018 but over a year later, Australian farmers were still waiting to access the new market access secured under this agreement.