New FTA's a step closer after bill passes

New FTA's a step closer after bill passes

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Enabling legislation for FTA's with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru have passed through Australia lower house of parliament and are to go to the senate, with the support of Labor.

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Australia is one step closer to having free trade agreements with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru after enabling legislation passed through the House of Representatives this week.

The Customs Tariff Amendment Bill 2019 has to be approved to allow the final ratification of the three FTA's.

Labor has given its support to the bill which now goes to the Senate for final approval.

Trade Minister Senator Simon Birmingham has thanked the opposition for its support.

"These agreements will deliver wide-ranging benefits for Australian exporters including agriculture, manufacturing, mining, education, tourism and financial services," he said.

"It is our intention for the necessary legislation to pass the Senate by the end of the year.

"Hong Kong and Peru have already completed ratification processes and we remain hopeful that Indonesia will complete their processes in a similar timeframe to Australia."

"It is our intention for the necessary legislation to pass the Senate by the end of the year - Senator Simon Birmingham.

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The red meat industry has been a vocal supporter of the ratification of FTA's with Indonesia and Hong Kong.

The Chairman of the Red Meat Advisory Council Don Mackay said the passing of the bill through the lower house is good news.

"I'm pleased the government and opposition have come out in support," he said.

"All the work we need to do on extending our reach into new markets is vital."

Mr Mackay said all three FTA's will be important for Australian agriculture, but it's the ones for Indonesia and Hong Kong, which have been identified as vital for red meat exports.

"They're significant markets now and the the Indonesian FTA has been a long time coming." he said.

"For us to get through that process now and get forward movement into the Senate is a good thing for the red meat industry."

RMAC Chair Don Mackay.

RMAC Chair Don Mackay.

The president of the National Farmers Federation Fiona Simson has also commended the bipartisan political support.

"Supporting the trade opportunities for Australian farmers and business must be bi-partisan and we thank the Labor Party for supporting these important agreements," she said.

"Australian farmers are amongst the least subsidised in the world and are reliant on strong trade relationships.

"It's incredibly important that when the drought breaks and farm productivity grows, that farmers are able to benefit from an enhanced trading relationship with Indonesia, Peru and Hong Kong.

"Indonesia, in particular, offers significant benefits across the board including for live cattle, feed grains, beef, sheep meat, dairy, sugar, fruit, carrots, potatoes and honey."

NFF president Fiona Simson.

NFF president Fiona Simson.

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